The Brights' Bulletin

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Issue #111
July 31, 2012

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


Remember the Brights’ “Toolbox”?

One favorite spot on The Brights’ Net site is a webpage called “The Toolbox.” It shows what Brights have to say about several subjects (confronting mortality, answering tough questions from children, etc.). That page gives those who reach it plenty to think through on their own.

Everyone who contributed has a naturalistic worldview, but you won’t find a rigid uniformity in the sampling of comments. Instead, there is much variety in the Toolbox. The webpage shows clearly (and usefully) the diversity in the constituency.

Thanks to those of you who have given your perspectives on prior questions posed. Now it’s time for another topic to be added to the Toolbox page.

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A New Toolbox Query

Will you help Brights Central produce another Toolbox segment? We’d like to post your views on “the why” of the Brights. How do you personally answer these questions like these?

“What is it that 'the Brights' seek?"
“What do you (as a Bright) want, anyway?”

Can you convey what you think quickly but thoughtfully? Please do!  Then email your example response to and put TOOLBOX in upper case letters in your subject line.

Any response you’d give around a water cooler (or in an elevator, or at the pub) would need to be spoken directly in a short timeframe, so we don’t want lengthy text. (Let’s say, less than 200 words maximum). Along with the text, please supply your first name and general location. Thanks in advance!

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Confidence in Organized Religion at Low Point (USA)

Note: there’s a distinction between confidence in organized religion and Americans’ god-belief.

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New Folks at Brights Central

In response to suggestions from constituents that we upgrade select social networking features,  BC has invited Jason, Rachel and Andrew to the office to start work as summer interns on that project. They started just after mid-July, got some grounding, and are now plunging in. Basically, their work will help BC employ (and better sustain) some of the more useful aspects of social media.

All three interns are Californians, spending the summer in Sacramento. Andrew is a recent graduate (BA in psychology with honors). Jason (UC-Davis) and Rachel (UC-Santa Cruz) are juniors (their interests, respectively, are philosophy and clinical psychology). We welcome them!

Interestingly, these three are rather new in this domain of activism. For example, none had heard of the recently held Reason Rally, “the largest gathering of the secular movement in world history).” Nonetheless, these young citizens are wholly supportive of the civic aims of the Brights movement. We find them plunging into the social media project with relish.

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Poster Positives

There’s not much doubt at Brights Central about how the high school science teachers who are receiving the wall poster feel about this project.

We’ve followed up by email with a goodly sampling of teachers (just making sure the poster was received) and so far, nothing but plaudits. Check out some of the comments!

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International Brights’ Forum Report

As if you haven't heard, the 2012 Olympic Games have been inaugurated in London.  Needless to say, this attracts notice from many in our global constituency, and from members of the Forums.  What an opportunity to celebrate human excellence and the shared aspirations and goals that cross all borders and boundaries!  How do the Olympics play where you live? Let us know.

There's new evidence that cultural biases toward those without supernatural beliefs may be shifting: As we mentioned last month, a Gallup poll of American voters indicates that they are likelier than ever to vote for an atheistic presidential candidate.  There remain, of course, certain problems of perception in many societies.  How do you feel about this news?  What progress do you see where you live, or what problems do you face — and how do you deal with them?  Comment in the Forum Topic to share your observations.

Participation in the Forums requires only a quick and simple registration.

We hope to see you there!

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Scoring in the Commissions Ballgame

It’s not the Olympics, but it’s definitely good sport, and most anyone can play! (And, once again we extend sincere thanks to those of you are in this game!)

Doing what?  Whenever you start online shopping, such as at Amazon or at any of the many different stores (over 900!) that can be contacted via an iGive button, stop and think! Then act. It doesn’t cost you any additional to remember to use the various tools that Brights Central makes available to sustain our nonprofit organization, The Brights’ Net.

The fact is, Brights Central sends its direct fund appeal only twice a year (the Equinoxes), and so we rely in both interims on Brights (and friends) who use these tools throughout the year, starting their shopping trips from our website. The Brights’ Net garners a small commission on each purchase that results. Even the small stuff adds up eventually, helping defray costs of services that are otherwise dependent on the generosity of those kind enough to respond to the two direct appeals for donations (September and March).

Tell your friends, too!  They can also help the endeavor by bookmarking and using these links. The key links can also be reached via from the home page of the website (in the right column).

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Coordinator Suggests New Tack (UK)

UK Brights Coordinator, Quentin Brodie-Cooper, has proposed lifting awareness of Brights in the UK via an alternative approach. Rather than direct promotion per se, UK Brights would advance “the Brights” through support of a worthwhile social endeavor. He states: “I'd like to suggest that there may be an opportunity to raise the awareness of Brights via another initiative I have recently launched. By doing so we could demonstrate to the population at large, through action rather than by words, that we [Brights] can be constructive contributors to society.”

The project he mentions was begun recently in response to the continual tarnishing of “the green and pleasant land” by irresponsible disposition of materials. It is, as Quentin has said, “a problem that has thus far proved intractable.” (And, it is one in which he is making use of both his interests and internet-focused talents.)

Besides being hopeful that many of the UK Brights as individuals would support such a positive UK-focused project (after the current mention in this Bulletin), Quentin has advocated to Brights Central that BC collaborate via a sponsorship nod. As a UK Brights project, the endeavour might well advance awareness (of the Brights) and indicate a civic involvement focus/civic responsibility. Brights Central welcomes feedback on this idea. Email to and put NEWUKTACK in upper case letters in your subject line. Let us know what you think!

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Lending via Kiva (For Your Reasons)

Let’s not forget The Brights’ Net Kiva team! BC almost did. After announcing it at the start, we failed to mention this team in a bulletin ever again (or post the news on the site!) Sorry!

Kiva offers an opportunity for any individual to lend to someone in need, someone who could put it to good use. As the Kiva website states:
We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

If you have a desire and capacity to lend but haven’t yet joined a lending team, then consider lending as a Bright. This small team was formed in part to show that one can “do good” for reasons of one’s own. A lender need not focus around a religion or a stance of nonbelief, but for any of the diverse reasons one who has a naturalistic worldview may have. Something to consider.

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Books By Brights

The Jolly Pilgrim
By Peter Baker
The Jolly Pilgrim sets out a naturalistic worldview through the vehicle of global travel adventure, taking place across 60,000 miles, 24 countries, five continents and two years.

Molasses Smothered Lemon Slices
By J.S. MacLean
Three sections of the book, titled "Naturalistic", "Science", and "Out of the Mystic", deal specifically with Bright-related themes. The natural world is celebrated and focused. Awe and beauty are explored in their natural essence.

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BC Editorial

Science Deserves More Public Attention

There’s just no doubt that science is increasingly central to major public policy challenges facing political leadership worldwide.

Given that fact, wouldn’t you think that science would also be at the center of political discussions taking place across the globe?

In some places, it may well be. However, in others, the science aspect of key concerns is not given the prominence it clearly deserves.

What’s the Problem?

Such hugely important issues as climate change, energy, critical natural resources, and pandemics are given low priority in general political discourse. Could it be (at least in part) that many political leaders and media personnel really are not equipped to comprehend “the reality (from science)” that is so central to these challenges?

Maybe they know their weaknesses, and so they avoid engaging the topic publicly?

In the U.S., for example, many politicians at all levels – profuse with opinion on a great many subjects, such as the economy or social matters – are nonetheless unable to tie their opinions in any but the most superficial ways to the authentic science that underlies science-relevant issues. Some appear to evidence the low scientific literacy that is generally pervasive. (They seemingly have “no clue” about how ecology and climatology relate to such fundamental challenges as food supply and ocean health.) Some hold firm to ideas that directly contradict what is well established in science.

Who Cares?

Maybe the situation calls for the citizenry to do more to elevate science. What if more and more citizens decide to show that science is high in their concerns about current policy actions and the future?

A grassroots coalition of scientists, engineers and science advocates in the U.S. has already begun the process of raising science as a topic. They are doing this by trying to discern, in advance, the science understanding of candidates seeking public office.

The “Science Debate” coalition identifies itself as “an independent citizens’ initiative asking candidates for office to discuss the top science questions facing America.” It has identified crucial topics deemed to require more consideration and has delineated key the type of questions to be asked of prospective public servants.

What Else to Do?

In the selection of leaders, weighing a certain level of commitment to science (and a minimum of comprehension) is important. Citizens who agree can (and should) show their concern. Taking steps to press media and politicians to at least discuss science more broadly might bear fruit.

Some sample issues: Fresh Water ♦ Climate Change ♦ The Internet ♦ Science in Public Policy ♦ Vaccinations & Public Health ♦ Space ♦ Research & the Future ♦ Education ♦ Energy ♦ Innovation.

Those who agree that more consideration of science is needed can elevate the discussion themselves. How about directing some pointed queries to candidates in public forums? Or, perhaps take opportunities presented via letters to the editor? Might you put out key ideas more frequently in social media?

All these are means for raising science-based concerns and elevating discussion of science as a whole in the public square. If others won’t do it, maybe you will.

This may be a good resource with which to start:
Sample queries to legislators 

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The Brights' Bulletin

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