The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #103
November 30, 2011

(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- DECEMBER 2011 


Season’s Greetings

December has arrived. For many around the world, it is a season for drawing closer to family and friends. It is also, for many, a time for sending and receiving holiday greetings. Here is ours to you.

Season's Greetings E-card (English)

New Bulletin Format

Starting this month, the Brights’ Bulletin has a “new face.” The fresh format has more versatility on assorted newer devices.  Please report any problems to webmaster@the-brights.net, and we will work to solve them. This bulletin is also reachable online.

Sending Holiday E-Cards

Every December brings this message from a Bright: How should I respond to the holiday cards I am receiving from my friends who are supers?

Now you can send your own good wishes. If you like the design above, you can send it as an e-card. Several language versions are available on the website. You can send to supers or to brights.

Note: our content provider seems to limit each user to approximately five cards per day, or 15 recipients.

Bookmark the page link. Tell any friends who may also wish to send the greeting. Feel free to print/reproduce in any medium, as you wish. (Thanks to the several Brights who helped Brights Central provide greetings in six additional languages!)

Seasonal Gifting

Online shoppers can support the Brights movement at no extra cost. You just need to remember to use the website's link to start. (Your friends can do it, too!)

Shop favorite stores via the iGive link: The Brights earn a small commission (varies by merchant), but there is access to over 900 online. (To name a few “B”s— Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & and Beyond, Bloomingdales, Brookstone, Burpee, etc.)

The Brights’ Net earns 7% commission from Amazon on any purchases (books, appliances, anything!). When enough Brights use that link, we can get a long way towards paying office rent at Brights Central.

Charitable Giving

Many Brights want to do good for others. Examples of possible interest:

You could participate in microfinancing to help alleviate poverty. The nonprofit organization, Kiva, has lots of different “lending teams.” Each is based on community interest. You can choose any team, of course. We want to mention that some Brights started a Kiva team. You could make it one Bright bigger! Kiva makes lending easy with e-cards, too. Learn how it works.

There is a relatively new secular humanist charity called Foundation Beyond Belief. It selects projects to support. The projects change periodically. You could check out FBB’s current projects and decide if you’d like to give funds by that route. 

The Brights’ Net is itself a public benefit organization categorized as Civil Rights/Social Action (Alliance Advocacy). The primary interest is educating about the naturalistic worldview within the context of civic pluralism and the Brights movement.

Put Science in Someone’s Stocking?

Just last week, a parent in Monaco emailed us to acknowledge receipt of two evolution posters we had sent to him. His testimonial indicates that appreciation for these wall posters may extend beyond science teachers!

Posters arrived yesterday and they're great. One for the kids’ bedroom and the other will go with my 11 year old daughter to school and go on the wall [there]. Thanks very much. Mike

These were “dark sky” Earth and Life: changes across time posters from the first printing. Some remain, so if you like the idea of gifting a 5-foot wide poster to a science enthusiast (whether youngster or adult), visit the website and see how to purchase. Best to do so quickly if you expect timely arrival!

New Book by a Bright

Natural Morality by Natural Selection by Jesper Vind

The evolutionary perspective is a departure from the established explaining of morality from a philosophical point of view.

More books are at:
http://www.the-brights.net/people/books/index.html

International Brights Forum Report

Two New Facilitators: There being a consensus in the Forum staff that we would benefit from being more numerous, we made inquiries to several long-time Forum participants.  We are pleased to announce that "Dainn" and "Sabunim5Dan" have accepted our invitation to join the volunteer staff, and we hope that our visitors will make them welcome in their new role.

Reason Rally News: Several Forum regulars have expressed interest in attending the upcoming event, to be held in Washington, D.C. on the 24th of March, 2012,  and even in volunteering to staff the Brights Network's presentation table.  Thanks, all! 

Reason Rally Promo ImageThough this writer expects that momentum toward Rally planning will build slowly at first, it is also noteworthy that the centennial Cherry Blossom Festival starts the same weekend as the Rally. The Kite Festival is also in town, which could make accommodations harder to come by. It is not too early to start getting specific about your plans, if you intend to go! If you have thoughts about the Rally, or wish to coordinate your attendance with other brights, why not drop by the Forums and introduce yourself?  We'll be happy to see you there.

Cheery Cheers!

From Lane in Arizona: “Awesome! Proud to be a Bright!”

From Tyler in California: “I am a proud advocate of naturalist, secular and atheist worldviews and feel honored to be part of the Brights' constituency”

From Anthony in Michigan “I've been looking for a group of like-minded people, people who believed in science instead of the supernatural. This movement is a great idea, very cool, thank you for this.”

A New Year Ahead; Any Changes?

The Brights movement has three civic aims. One is to promote the civic understanding of the naturalistic worldview, which is free of supernatural and mystical elements. It’s a worthy goal for any Bright to take on, but it isn’t always easy. In many places it isn’t even safe. Each individual must evaluate any surrounding cultural stigma (and the likely consequences of candor).

Still, social change requires deeds. Why not put some careful thought into your situation -- Might you take some steps (however small or large) to make your worldview better known to others? Are those who already know you personally aware of your worldview? Do they understand that a naturalistic understanding of the world can be personally gratifying? Do they view it as perhaps civically useful? How accepting are they of others who differ?

If you are keeping silent about who you are, at least take time to analyze what may be the source of any personal trepidation. It it a fear of denigration? Are you concerned about disapproval of those you love?

“Having a naturalistic worldview” is one way to characterize your outlook without any reference whatsoever to religion. This characterization is assertive, positive, and inclusive of widely variant philosophies. It is not restricted to specific concepts like deities. It does not confront others. It may be a helpful alternative means of self-identity for you to use as appropriate occasions arise.

One Bright’s Actions

The following was posted in the Brights’ Forums. The post ended with the closing identifier: “Albatross (of The Brights)” 

In my conversations with people I quite often mention The Brights and talk about the naturalistic world-view. That's the least I can do. I sort of try to instill a thought on the wonders of nature as is, without any metaphysical overbuild or specific ideological determinate except for that which brings people together into a harmony of sharing, kindness and awe. Then when I write on the things I think I understand and on that where I'm out in the deep waters, I still allude to the naturalistic view by dropping the brights tag all around ...

It is yet always possible to throw in a personal reference to The Brights in whatever venture one is engaged; a speech, a performance, a book or simply amongst friends (like, my my how 'bright' ye be). One can laud the naturalistic stance and tag whatever one says with a 'bright' garland. "As the dance of life throws up a bright billion galaxies of light / Oh, I find that words are not enough." (And the idea is memebedded).

A Difficult Topic! – Suggest Your Action

Worldview presents a major disconnect between brights and supers. Once having settled into a personally gratifying frame of mind, there is less to credit in the other’s outlook. It can be a major challenge to bridge the disconnect (from either side). Why give credence to the other’s worldview? 

But this movement wants to gain more acceptance for brights, and more involvement for them, in the public arenas. In the civic sense, as human beings and citizens, brights and supers are equals. So do you, a Bright, assist the supers you know to be more supportive in this civic sense? (If so, how?)

Actually, a great many supers are simply citizens who put trust in their understandings. (They are not proselytizers of their spiritual or religious stance.) To explain certain things, these supers rely on those entities and forces they’ve learned about. To them, the world they live in and the things that happen in it just don’t make sense without some supernatural agency. Most prominently across the globe, it is God, or certain deities, that they envision “behind it all.” They have learned it, and their outlook won’t readily change. Still, a great many such supers can learn to “think it is fine” that the brights in the world have a different worldview. 

So maybe there is hope that many supers in society will grow in their public regard for those of us who have a naturalistic perspective. They can view brights as equals in the citizenry domain. And perhaps we, even though we discount their outlook (as they do ours) can nurture that development? 

We welcome your ideas on this topic. Try this as the main question: How can a Bright help a super to be more accepting and supportive of brights (as a class of citizens)?

Send your strategy to the-brights@the-brights.net and put ACCEPTANCE in upper case letters in your subject line. If we can acquire an interesting range of suggestions, we will devote a Toolbox segment to this issue, so that other Brights can ponder, and perhaps try, the suggestions.


NEWS

Nonreligious Scientists Join Religious Communities—Why? (Rice University Study)

Interviews in this study (Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion Volume 50, Issue 4, pages 728–743, December 2011) can yield a more nuanced public understanding of how atheist and agnostic scientists relate to religious communities. The study examines their motives and struggles, and the influences that press them away from or toward belonging to a religious group (e.g., identity as scientist, personal desire for community, spousal sway, perceived needs of children, and more.

Distrust Underlies Anti-Atheist Prejudice (University of British Columbia Study)

Anti-atheist prejudice is prevalent, but little is known about the social psychology of it. This study (in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (advance online publication) Doi: 10.1037/a0025882) explores why atheists are among the least liked people wherever there are religious majorities (i.e., in most of the world). Investigating anti-atheist prejudice in light of two recent theoretical perspectives, the authors suggest (among other things) that this type of prejudice differs from anti-gay prejudice, and point to the perception that atheists are untrustworthy as key.


Brights Backing Brights

As we come to the end of the year, recall that procedures for donating are on our fundraising page at:
http://www.the-brights.net/funding/supportbrights/

If you are inclined to do so, there are several ways to add helpful support via monthly subscription:
http://www.the-brights.net/funding/supportbrights/

Reference Guide to Contacting Personnel and Locating Information

All contact and general information at: http://www.the-brights.net/reference_guide.html

All the Bulletins, including this one, may be found via the links in the right column of the home page at http://www.the-brights.net


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