The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #109
May 31, 2012

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JUNE 2012 


Arkansas "Poster Flood"

In May, Brights Central saw a burst of mail coming in from science teachers. In each envelope was an application for a wall poster. (The teachers are requesting the “Earth and Life: changes over time” evolution poster that is highlighted on the home page.)

Under an agreement with the developer and depending mostly on word of mouth, BC has been disseminating the five-foot wide poster (free to qualifying teachers) across the past year. The recent spurt of requests was a definite departure from the usual gradual rate, however. In fact, the applications received in May mark the most requests for the poster ever.

Additionally surprising is the fact that almost all these recent requests came from Arkansas! The state of Arkansas is in a region known as the “American Bible Belt” (shown here in red).

What happened in Arkansas to cause so many teachers to apply for a poster all at once (across two weeks) but seemingly independently?

We have begun the process of tracking back and hope to have the mystery solved by next month’s bulletin. We’d like to replicate the situation elsewhere! In the meantime, make sure that all the high school science teachers you know are aware that they too can apply if they are teaching about evolutionary changes on earth.

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Over Two Thousand Students

Because of the burst of poster-related activity in May, we can state that 2,152 students in Arkansas now have exposure to its unique presentation of information and can engage the material with the help of knowledgeable teachers. How do we know? Because of the commitments of the teachers and the process BC uses for disseminating posters.

At the office, besides appropriately preparing the five-foot wide items for posting without damage. Kelly checks the information each teacher submits (an agreement for its use in certain classes) and enrolls the teacher (for subsequent follow-up). She encloses activity suggestions and also follows up on the mailings acquiring feedback from the teachers. We continuously gain confidence that the teachers who are receiving this teaching resource are dedicated to using it and thankful of receiving it. So far, the reception has been totally positive.

This response is rather typical:“I received the poster yesterday.  I can’t wait to put it up in my classroom! Thank you!” (Amanda, in Placer County, California)

A favorite from this month’s “flood” comes from A.S. in Cleburne County, Arkansas: “Thank you so much for the poster!! It is amazing. Several students have looked at it and thought it was extra interesting so I know it’s good!

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A Real Need (USA)

At Brights Central, we didn’t mind that one bit that the Arkansas science teachers kept us so busy processing their applications. Arkansas, after all, had until 1968 a law that prohibited the teaching of human evolution in the state’s public schools. Teaching evolution there previously triggered fines and dismissal.

The law was overturned by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Epperson v. Arkansas. The case shifted the picture (away from religion and toward science) not only in Arkansas, but also in classrooms across the nation.

Although Arkansas and other states have come a long way since then, we appreciate that Arkansas teachers, like many elsewhere (especially in the U.S. Bible belt region), continue to face difficulties today.

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Let’s Keep It Going

It’s nice to have a Brights’ project that clearly aids those educators who are committed to teaching about evolution amidst ongoing challenges.
http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/poster.html

The “evolution poster” project was initially conceived as a program for the Brights’ Special Initiative Group 2 (Brights who support authentic science and science education).

To keep the service going, we rely on backing from all Brights who find the project of value. BC has been able to provide the teaching resource thanks to the PayPal donations received that are earmarked to the project. If you appreciate this project, please join in with your support and tell your friends.

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May’s Messaging Pack

Daniel emailed to BC: “Today I received from BC my free sticker and static cling (and a bookmark) at home in Brazil. Thanks to BC and all American brights who are supporting the costs to send these items around the world. I'll display them appropriately.

For Daniel: Perhaps the sticker on your car or in your cubicle will result in some productive exchanges with fellow citizens (coworkers, acquaintances, family and friends). The sticker’s message helps focus attention on the Brights’ egalitarian civic vision. We hope fellow citizens will be curious and reach the website after reading the message and noticing the home page URL.

FYI to all: For the one ounce postage, we were able to enclose a brochure, bookmark, and biz card along with the “Step Forward for Civic Equality” sticker and "No Supernatural Ingredients" cling.  

Plaudits to all in the constituency who pitched in to help spread the word about the Brights initiative and its vision of civic fairness.The sticker message is just one of the main ideas of the Brights movement, but it’s an important one: Citizens who have a naturalistic worldview need to be candid about their supernatural-free perspective while at the same time making a case for social acceptance and full civic participation in society of people who have a naturalistic outlook.

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Sticker Shock (Learning Experience)

The May bulletin re-taught BC a hard lesson: When providing instructions to thousands of readers, precision is important! We should have told the American Brights exactly how much postage to put on that self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). The intent (unspoken assumption) was to receive a standard #10 envelope sufficient to go out with 1 ounce postage. (It would hold a sticker and cling and maybe a bookmark or two slipped in.) But some Brights right away sent along a BIG ENVELOPE stamped with abundant postage, and it was a scramble for BC to find half-way suitable swag to match it.

The website’s instructions were revised when the large envelopes started to arrive, but too late for those who responded right away. The good part is that, thanks to the Americans who enclosed an extra dollar in their envelope (and to a handful of generous folks who enclosed even more), BC was able to respond to ALL international requests received during May.  Yea!

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International Brights’ Forum Report

The Forum community has been interested in American politics this month, pursuing a lengthy topic on how presidential contender Mitt Romney got so rich, and what implications his business practices have on the ethics that can be expected of him as President of the United States.  In a related topic on Job Creators, various ins and outs of the business world are explored.

But an abundance of interests exists in the Forum community, and of particular interest to us is how brights fare in society in general, and what interests brights, collectively, might have.  Why not register in the Forums, and communicate your concerns to an audience that might share them?  We'll see you there.

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Brights Community Clusters (BCCs)

A Change in the Canary Islands: Jose, of the Brights in Tenerife, reports that his Meetup group there is converting to Facebook and thereby extending online communications to the entire archipelago via the new FB site: "The Canariesґ Brights" or (in Spanish) "Brights de Canarias".

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Grateful for the “i-Givers”

We often mention how valuable it is to the support of this movement that consumers (Brights and friends) who shop online initiate their shopping via the website’s available links. After all, The Brights’ Net qualifies for 7% (yes - 7%!) of any purchase with Amazon.com. (The .uk, .de, .fr amounts are smaller, but have a chance to grow with use.)

But it is not just Amazon shoppers we have to thank. It’s important to give credit, too, to all of you online shoppers who put an i-Give link on your browser and become i-Give shoppers at any of more than 900 different businesses. While that link automatically sends only a small amount to The Brights’ Net each time you buy something, every penny counts. And while you won’t notice, The Brights’ Net will! (The actual percentage of your price that comes our way varies from 0.5% to 3.5%)

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Geisert Cuts Back…Again

Paul Geisert has been “central” to Brights Central since the beginning. He has all along been the person most likely to answer an emailed query to BC or to respond to a site comment coming in through the website. And, it has to be mentioned too that, in all his involvement at The Brights’ Net – in every capacity (and he has served in multiple roles) – Dr. Geisert has been 100% volunteer.

A model of dedicated volunteerism and a nifty deal for The Brights’ Net to have on hand a former university professor (zoology/education) donating so much time in retirement to educating about the naturalistic worldview and providing impetus to others to re-examine their status in society from a civics point of view.

Even now, with tapering involvement due to declining health, he is still volunteering as he can, and editing Brights bulletins (except this single entry). Although much reduced in time and unloading some tasks on others, we fully expect Paul will be right here continuing to contribute to select activities from which he will, later on, sadly need to cut back yet again.

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Some Site Revisions:
More Feedback Welcome

#1: “CIVIC CONSIDERATIONS”

The May Bulletin introduced this new site segment to offer some thoughts on responsibilities of brights for advancing their own civic status, along with links to strategies to at least consider for playing a civics ballgame.

We appreciate those of you who sent in some feedback on the material, and we’ve taken some of your recommendations to heart. Thanks to you, the material on the topic has been edited and rearranged. As outlined now, the topics are:

  • Outshining a Single Idea
  • Presenting the Broader You
  • Brights in Society

 #2: “ACTION IDEAS”

Brights Central has identified four general areas of individual activity that align well with the overall aims of the Brights movement.

The website also presents some suggestions for Brights to consider in each of the four categories.

Read through the suggestions in each category. Keep in mind the civic vision. Do you have additional counsel to offer?

If you do, feel free to send to Brights Central for consideration. Email your submission to the-brights@the-brights.net with ACTION in uppercase letters in your subject line.

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BC EDITORIAL

Helping Ourselves in the Civic Sense

Overall, citizens who have a naturalistic worldview are the moral equals of those who hold fast to supernatural and mystical explanations. They should be treated as civic equals, too. But they aren’t.

It is a fact that brights are held back when society doesn’t hold this view of moral equality. Some research indicates that the absence of deity belief brings along civic suspicion.

A large portion of the citizenry does not see that human morality has developed naturally in the species. However, in some ways, we ourselves don’t make the matter better. Because so many brights stay wholly mired in the religion realm, they don’t seem to help much in the civic sense and in some ways, do harm.

For all the value of recent billboards and bus ads at awakening the citizenry to our presence in society, we continue to fail in one sense: to impart our wholeness. We need to present ourselves more fully.

As regards morality and our claim of worth, being “good without god” is the oft-repeated mantra. In our messaging, we bow to society’s own forceful framing. We define ourselves negatively as we continually put out the message that we are "without something that society deems of great importance.”

The idea of god is reinforced again and again, as in every statement we make, God gets another advertisement.

We’d claim that “we who are without god” can be positive contributors to society, but it’s a fact that “we who have a naturalistic worldview” can be making the positive contributions to society. And one very positive contribution would be educating others in constructive ways.

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