The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #125

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BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- OCTOBER 2013 


Expressive Illuminations

The artwork shown here hints at the Brights’ icon and bears the title, My Bright Perspective. (Charlotte, a Bright in New Jersey, sent it in. Thank you, Charlotte.)

Noting the vibrancy and individuality, we couldn’t resist adding the colorful image to the Brights’ website's "Expressions and Illuminations web page. That page displays various material sent in by Brights (poems, art, body art, cartoons, etc.).

Do you have talents to display? Material is welcome if clearly motivated by and connected to the Brights. For posting, it needs to align well, so if you plan a submission, best to describe it in an email to the-brights@the-brights.net beforehand. 

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Custody of Connections

Many thanks to the Brights who participated in the Equinox fund drive. The twice-a-year request gives participating Brights the opportunity to help other Brights stay connected via the nonprofit enrollment, communications, and action hub (The Brights’ Net).

Did you respond to last month’s funding request?  Whether through a single donation in any amount, or through a 6-month or ongoing monthly PayPal commitment of a small amount, we really appreciate your backing of this global initiative! There are no membership dues, and so The Brights’ Net depends on the generosity of Brights who want to help.

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Back Door Style Backing

Not quite “up” for making direct donations to support the Brights initiative? You can still provide some very important support indirectly. In fact, one of the very best ways to back the Brights actually takes place at no cost to you!

Amazon — The Brights’ Net gets a 6 or 7% commission from each and every purchase you make at Amazon. All you need to do is start each Amazon shopping session from the Brights website. This is a superb way to contribute. And, it is absolutely free! When enough Brights use this method, it really makes a difference. So please bookmark this link!

iGive.com — This is a similar approach, although much smaller commission. Still, it offers you over 1200 different stores! Just a few merchants starting with the letter “R” are worth a mention:  Radio Shack, Rebecca Taylor, Redbox, REI, Road Runner, Rockport, Rodale, Roxy.  Check out your favorites using the link on this page.

Then take the time to designate The Brights' Net as the nonprofit organization for your online shopping..

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New Poster Access — For Brights This Time

Brights Central has had to continuously say “Sorry, no” to Brights who have wanted to obtain one of the Earth and Life: Changes across time posters. And, BC has received so many requests!

To date, we have been severely restricted in providing it. We couldn’t, even if the individual offered to pay for the item, or if the Bright had donated generously to support the poster project. We had an agreement with the developer that BC would be disseminating posters as targeted (to high school science teachers).

The “Dark Sky” (off color) printing, which some may recall, was the only exception. Otherwise, agreement with the image developer meant that the recipient teachers in classrooms where students would be most likely to benefit. And, they would commit to its use in teaching about evolution (and not treat it as a decorative display).

We recently achieved some modification of terms. So, if you envision an educational purpose for a poster, or if you’re curious about the somewhat loosened circumstances, please be sure to read the section in this Bulletin on “New Project Arrangements.” As a Bright, you now may be able to acquire one.

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On the International Forums

This month, the Forums featured an article describing the first-discovered naturally occurring mechanical gears. Amazingly, they belong to an insect, which uses them to coordinate its jumping movements.  For animations, references, and further discussion of the finding and its implications, see the Topic.

Credit: Malcom Burrows

Active for nearly two months now is the Topic "Science is Not Your Enemy," featuring a New Republic opinion piece by noted author and psychologist (and Bright) Steven Pinker. He notes:

"One would think that writers in the humanities would be delighted and energized by the efflorescence of new ideas from the sciences. But one would be wrong. Though everyone endorses science when it can cure disease, monitor the environment, or bash political opponents, the intrusion of science into the territories of the humanities has been deeply resented."  

To see discussion sparked by Pinker's comments, visit the Topic.

Register to contribute your own comments in the Forums.  See you there!

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In the Name of Science

Closing Science Articles with Silence:  For many who care about science, opinions expressed on the Web have grown both too callous and too shallow. For example, the well-known Popular Science has decided to shut down the comment option, explaining:  “Comments can be bad for science.”

Choosing Science over Beliefs: Noted skeptic (and Bright) Michael Shermer has devoted a Scientific American column to his personal handling of the conflict between his libertarian beliefs, and science.  He closes with reflection on being human:

[A]ll of us are subject to the psychological forces at play when it comes to choosing between facts and beliefs when they do not mesh. In the long run, it is better to understand the way the world really is rather than how we would like it to be.

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Individual Insights from Brights

BloggingBrights.net offers commentary on living life as Brights. The latest entry from “The Science-Minded Citizen” issues a warning that we not be caught by “The Know It All Effect.”

Submitted by Antonio (from his blog post at Animal Navigation):
“Gravity and gyro effects are the basis of animal navigation” (presenting a new model of how animals navigate based on the forces of gravity and the use of “gyros”).

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New Poster Project Arrangements

First, A Project Overview

Have you been paying attention to this featured effort of the Brights?

The project allows individuals in the constituency to act collectively. They contribute to the movement while benefiting the next generation of citizens.

The “Why” 

One way to “illuminate the naturalistic worldview” is by expanding comprehension of the natural aspects of life that so often are credited to deities or supernatural forces. Fundamental to this type of understanding are the processes of evolutionary change.

All too few citizens today have much authentic understanding. They credit deities and forces because they do not grasp what science has to say about how earth, and life upon it, changes naturally.

Brights are cooperating to expand this type of understanding.

The Gist

If you aren't yet conversant with the project, you can go to the newly revised web page explaining it.

Brights Central is disseminating large classroom image of Earth and Life: changes across time FREE to appropriate instructional settings. We are targeting situations that are ripe for actually making the most difference. This first requires aiming at an appropriate learning level. And then also ensuring the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher.

And So Far...

Throughout the school year, The Brights’ Net has been disseminating to high school science teachers who will use it in for teaching about evolution. The poster has been exceptionally well received. Teachers really “go for it.”

Up to now, over 37,000 youngsters have been exposed to the poster material within their classrooms.  With a new school year now in progress and posters continuing in use, essentially double that number should benefit with no further poster distribution whatsoever.  But, we continue…

With this October printing of the classroom poster comes a new set of arrangements for teachers, and for Brights, too.

The Brights’ Net will be continuing distribution in additional U.S. high schools. But it is also gearing up to further availability internationally. And, now there are ways individual Brights can also participate in “the poster project”.

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Now, An Expanded Situation

It took some adjustments of paper and other press essentials to adequately refine the image, but that has now been accomplished and we are awaiting delivery of another round of posters next week. Hooray! 

As we have hundreds more posters to disseminate, there’s also been some modification of arrangements in keeping with both the developer’s interests and The Brights’ Net’s nonprofit public benefit purposes. BC is pleased to report that, in response to numerous requests from Brights, we have arranged with the developer an opportunity to broaden noncommercial poster distribution (at cost of fulfillment).

Prior requirements for FREE distribution continue to be in effect. Also, copyright restrictions imposed on original image development mean that there is to be no commercial exchange or profit. But there have been two key additions.

1) Besides provision to American classrooms, BC can also provide free posters to secondary level science teachers internationally. The teachers will receive the poster free but will need to pay the international postage. Also, under similar terms, certain alternative instructional settings will now qualify.
2) A Bright who wants to acquire a poster may do so. As the increased exposure is intended for educational purposes, ideally the recipient will have learners in mind for which the material is educationally appropriate.

If that situation fits you, then you may purchase a personal copy of the poster and use it for “illuminating the naturalistic worldview” or for “educating about evolutionary change” with an audience within your sphere of influence. Use this link to get more details.

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