The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #113
August 30, 2012

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- SEPTEMBER 2012 


Here’s What Brights Want

We asked in last month’s bulletin how you personally would answer if someone at the water cooler or in an elevator asked you: “What is it that ‘the Brights’ seek?”or “What do you (as a Bright) want, anyway?”

We appreciate all of you who sent in what you think the Brights movement is striving for. We have just put up a webpage in the Brights’ Toolbox to illustrate types of comments received.

Thankfully, there were plenty of remarks to choose from. On the web page we tried to show some of the diversity in the constituency while avoiding too much duplication..

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(B)right on Target!

One Toolbox submission is reprinted in full here because it captures so well the overall movement’s aspirations. Website visitors can see clearly that Brights are working for equitable civic representation of persons whose worldviews are free of supernatural/mystical elements.

“What is it that 'the Brights' seek? I am guessing that many would assume that Brights seek clarity – clarity of purpose, clarity of vision. But what I really think we are seeking is parity.

“We want the natural world view to be given at least the same consideration as anything supernatural. We want the rationalist to be treated on par with and with at least the same respect as the so-called faith-based adherent. We want this at all levels of human society.

“We believe that something is seriously wrong when verifiable facts open to the scrutiny of anyone anywhere are considered of less value than the unproven and the unverifiable. This is anathema to us. And it is clearly unfair based on all that we hold to be true and good in a civilization rooted in the ideals of Plato and Socrates.

“Brights seek parity - simple fairness in the marketplace of ideas.”
(George Schiro, Florida, USA)

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A Meaningful Exchange

"Just a nonbeliever", are you? - No way. You're a real person. A whole person. Why let others define you by cultural hegemony? Show what you DO accept, rely on, imagine, suppose, believe, and trust. Morals and values, good stuff.”

The above post on Facebook (8/27) leads the way to some pretty nifty people it’d be nice to know! 

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International Brights’ Forum Report

When is it OK to share beliefs or opinions?  That's the title of a Topic posted recently in the Brights' Forums. As we make our naturalistic worldviews known, brights the world over encounter reactions from uncaring acceptance to outright hostility, and each of us must find a way of dealing with that that's acceptable in our particular circumstance.  What's your strategy?  What problems do you encounter?  What success have you found?  You can comment in the Topic thread to share your experience.

What's the most astounding fact about the natural universe?  Apparently, many brights have opinions — some of them quite strong — on the subject.  This Topic addresses what individuals find amazing about the world, how they relate to it, and their motives for relating to it in the way that they choose.

It takes just a minute to register in the Forums, and diverse commentary is invited!  We'll see you there.

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A First-Time Ever Convention (Brazil)

Alexandre reports on progress in his nation:
“I bring some good news about Humanist and Secularist movement in Brazil to you and to the Brights Community. We are promoting the first congress to be held in Brazil aimed to discuss the Humanism and Secularism. 200 people have already signed up.”

Some of the topics being broached: humanism, secularism, rationalism, LGBTI rights, skepticism, atheism, science, racism, secular state, tolerance among faiths, evidence-based medicine, and life’s meaning

While visiting Brazil last month, Skeptic (and Enthusiastic Bright) Michael Shermer recorded an opening video for the conference, as did the president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Sonja Eggerickx. The president of the Atheist Alliance International, Carlos Diaz, attended.

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Science Uplifted [Somewhat] for Presidential Election... (USA)

Science should be front and center in the current American presidential campaign. It isn't. Still, the “Science Debate” coalition has prodded the Romney and Obama campaigns to at least speak “in print” to science-based concerns.

Even if they aren’t willing to engage in a forthright debate that would truly elevate discussion of science as a whole in the presidential campaign, at least the candidates have put words into print. You may want to share the candidate’s responses far and wide.

Seeing statements on a website isn’t very satisfying for citizens who have science really high in their concerns about current policy actions and the future, but at least it is something. 

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…But U.S. Congressional Candidates Just Say “No”

Many of the leading science organizations in the United States arrived at a consensus on the “Top American Science Questions: Congressional Edition”. Yet when Scientific American magazine submitted its questionnaire to key leaders of Congress, most recipients simply ignored the entreaty. Some verbally declined to answer any questions about their policy views.

Science is increasingly central to major public policy challenges facing political leadership worldwide, but politicians appear fearful of engaging the topic publicly.

If you are motivated to urge more engagement, here’s a link that “names the names” of key congressional leaders who deal with science policy. It provides contact information. 

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Favorites from the In-Box

Funny: (Thomas, California, USA): “I am so excited to be counted as a person who doesn't put faith in fantasy... even though it would be cool to walk on water every now and again.

Serious: (Brian, Michigan, USA): “What I see here and do not see in other sites (to any great extent) is the desire to do something positive. To make the world a better place (am I the 1st one to say that?). Originality is not my strong suit.”

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Book by a Bright

Messiah Chronicles, by Meade Fischer

This fictionalized account of Jesus and his friends during the misison years is without any of the supernatural that accompanies the familiar story. This author transforms the usual account into a novel, showing a group of religious reformers on the road, trying to get people to listen. There's no intent to demean others' beliefs. It's simply to show a reality that could have happened. 

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Buzz Bits (Enthusiastic Brights)

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Beyond the Bulletins

In the Works

Update: To bolster the educational aspects of the Brights initiative, we are fine-tuning an approach to social media platforms, and we’d like to add a blog site soon. We invite you to think how you might personally contribute to these endeavors. Volunteering requires time and commitment, more than many can sustain, but we welcome your interest!.

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Peeking in at Brights Central

In the interim before heading back to college, interns Jason and Rachel have been helping at the hub of the Brights movement. They, along with Andrew (not shown) have succeeded in putting a fresh face on the Brights’ Twitter site, started to bring more accuracy and focus to the Wikipedia’ entry, activated the YouTube channel, adopted a Google+ site (not yet completed) , and rejuvenated the Facebook site.

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Up to You, Now!

Brights Central is equipped to send information along somewhat more broadly on the aforementioned platforms (at least in English). If you run across significant survey research or news items of high relevance to the civic vision (acceptance, engagement, participation) of the Brights movement, feel free to email links to Brights Central. Send such content to the-brights@the-brights.net and put “MAYB2SHARE?” in upper case letters in your subject line.

We are in the process of identifying priority sites to follow and would welcome your involvement. If interested, email to the-brights@the-brights.net with "2FOLLOW" in your subject line. We would like to pass along pertinent content items to be shared further on social media sites.

As BC staff-time involves overseeing the nonprofit organization that supports the constituency of Brights, we rely on constituents themselves to provide communications that are germane. In order to keep focus on the concepts of civic acceptance and involvement, we will pass along items when they are well aligned with both the stated civic aims and the specified principles of the Brights movement.

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Ever Consider Blogging?

In preparing to shape and launch a blog, Brights Central is open to hosting some writers from the constituency at large. (BC need not be the only content source.)

As this movement is taking a civics bent (with parity and inclusion and participation in mind), blog posts should be informative and educational for both sides of the deity-belief/nonbelief coin. We’d also welcome any writers from beyond the USA who have a global perspective along with facility in English.

If you are thinking you have things to say and might like to use this new channel to express your opinions, email to the-brights@the-brights.net and put “ME2BLOG?” in upper case letters in your subject line. You’ll receive further instructions on what to do.

Before emailing your interest, though, please note that we are aspiring to a novel approach for the site. We’d like it to convey departures from familiar religion-centered terrain. (The “beliefs’ realm is already generally well-covered elsewhere.) We want to illuminate broader aspects of having a naturalistic outlook, and so we’re hoping that insightful and upbeat contributors who can write along different lines will step forward.

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Got Graphic Talents to Spare?

At Brights Central we’re thinking that it would be best for the blog site to have its own logo. And, as most activities of the Brights movement result from the volunteer actions of constituents, we don’t mind asking for help in shaping the blog site.

We know that some constituents are graphic artists. Voila! Why not seek designs from the constituency? Of course we want to carry forward with the optimistic and enlightening symbolism described on the website, but we would welcome something of a twist.

If interested, e-mail the-brights@the-bright.net and put "GRAPHIC" in your subject line in upper case letters. BC will reply with specifications, procedures and a deadline. If you are a graphic artist, here’s a great opportunity for you to make a bit of news for your talents (if your design is selected).

With enough submissions, we might even have a competition that is open to the entire constituency to vote their favorite (rather than the choice being made at BC).

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Like It or Not?

In setting the stage for blogging, we want to carry forward with the symbolism already described on the website. We hope for content that is both enlightening and optimistic. There's plenty to grumble about, but we'll try to show the "bright side" of living with a naturalistic worldview.

Given the loose connection of "the brights" to the Enlightenment era with its favoring of reason and science, we're putting forth as the tentative name of the blog: BrightenUp! Got a problem with it? State your concern in an email to the-brights@the-bright.net  (Put "RETHINK" in your subject line in upper case letters.) If you have a superior upbeat name to suggest, feel free to send it along.

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