The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #128

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BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JANUARY 2014 


Caption:

Make the World Better!

It’s a nice ambition. Most of us want to do it. We say so.

Easily said, but there are benefits to a plan.

The calendar year offers us all an annual opportunity. Having turned the page to 2014, each of us can take a fresh look at how we might personally contribute to the Brights’ angle on an overall “make it better” endeavor.

You can decide on some promising personal actions you might wish to pursue in the year ahead.  (And no, they needn’t involve donating money to The Brights’ Net, although that’s a possible way, of course.)

Here, in brief, is a refresher for making your personal plan of “Brighten-Action.” The next two segments highlight the topmost aspects to consider.

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Scaffolding

Recall that The Brights’ Net is a constituency of individuals, so there’s no dogma or manifesto or creed involved in being a Bright. There is no manual of instructions. There are some helpful features to go on, though.

  • A paramount egalitarian Vision
  • Three broad civic Aims
  • The Overall Task for each Bright
    (Where, when, with whom, and how you “illuminate and elevate” is yours to decide.)
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Action Themes

The website suggests ways you can personally help engender positive social change wherever you happen to be. The simple guidance is raw material for your individual interpretation.

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Add in Your Ideas?

What other actions align well with the ideal of affirmative civic activism that guides the Brights’ initiative?

Brights Central can incorporate other ideas to the “Action Pages” on the website, and Brights everywhere can consider them. So, if you have suggestions of a generic and global nature, email to the-brights@the-brights.net with ACTIONS in uppercase letters in your subject line.

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Reality about Morality

How has human morality come about? Did it happen by naturalistic means, or has it involved some divine entity or power?

One aspect of the Brights’ Morality Project has been seeking out evidence of a naturalistic basis. The peer reviewed research studies obtained so far have been summarized and listed on the website in support of four main Project statements. As reported last month, we are now translating what we have found into concise visual form for straightforward dissemination.

Above: Two infographic examples (explaining infographics): Beth Kanter (bethkanter.org) & Hot Button Studio

Update: In December Brights Central contracted with a company to produce an infographic of major concepts. The small task team of volunteer Brights has selected a graphic designer to build the visual presentation of the four ideas and the supporting research studies and researcher endorsements already acquired. One research scientist in the field has agreed to review the material to be provided; another is being sought.

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Volunteer Translator – You?

Are you proficient in both English and any of the languages listed here?  If you are, we’d like to know if you have time to do a simple translation task when the infographic is completed. Brights Central will contact you. We’re starting a volunteer list ahead of time.

We may or may not pursue all these languages, but these are the ones most aligned with constituency demographics (# of Brights by registration nation): Dutch, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish

Perhaps we will add Russian as well, since this month Evgeniy reported that the group of "The Brights" movement that he had launched in the largest Russian social network "Vkontakte" ("?????????") has gained nearly 8000 subscribers and Artem (?????) has already volunteered to help with more extensive translations.

If you are pretty sure you will have time for a short translation task in a couple of months, email to the-brights@the-brights.net with TRANSLATEVOL in uppercase letters in your subject line.

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From the International Forums

What is life, and does it exist?  No, don’t laugh, for even the experts disagree about the intuitively “obvious” distinction between life and non-life, especially at the margins.  Historically, mysticists and philosophers have tried to create a distinction between life and non-life by simply defining an йlan vital or other mystery substance to delineate the living from the dead, but in modern times it has been found that those ideas don’t survive contact with measurement.  But the difference, if there is one, is the central question of a Topic in the Forums:  Why Life Does Not Really Exist.  As will happen, it takes a bit of a romp through physics and representation, but so far manages to stay within the ambit of relevance.  Come have a look!

According to a study (PDF) done by WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Islamic fundamentalism is widely spread in Europe, and the particulars might be disturbing to some of you: “Fundamentalism is not an innocent form of strict religiosity”, says a study author.  “We find a strong correlation between religious fundamentalism – actually among both Christians and Muslims – and hostility toward out-groups like homosexuals or Jews.”  Unsurprisingly, this has occasioned some discussion in the Forums.

Quick and confidential registration is needed to participate in the Forums.

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Insights from Brights

BloggingBrights.net offers commentary on living life as Brights.

In her latest post, "Those Famous 5 Stages of Grief:  Hogwash?A Rational Woman muses about grief and loss and how we deal with it.

In this post, she describes a book she has been reading as “a science-based yet sensitive and thought-provoking look at how society constructs attitudes about loss, and how such attitudes may not be the most helpful for everyone.” 

Besides the book review, there are some revealing facts, along with resources (including links to a valuable online support network on Facebook).

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How Insignificant We Are

We have to “create our own meaning in life.” We must make the best of “our brief moment in the sun.”

For many, those are not cheery messages.  But some think it far better to face facts than to let religion get in the way of comprehending reality.

In the 2013 documentary film, “The Unbelievers,” Richard Dawkins (a famous scientist and atheistic Bright) and Lawrence Kraus (who found funding for the film) banter back and forth about such matters. They traverse several locales in something approaching a rock-tour film about science. “Science is beautiful,” pronounces Dawkins.

Just “plain, honest talk about the universe and the plight of humans in it.”  At least that’s how a New York Times reviewer, Dennis Overbye, has described the film.

If you missed a screening, or when it opened for a week in Manhattan last month prompting the NYT review, you will need to be on the lookout for it in the worldwide distribution plans of Content Media (iTunes, Netflix, Blueray, etc.).

Above: The Pale Blue Dot, a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spaceprobe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from Earth, as part of the solar system Family Portrait series of images. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Thanks, Folks!

To those of you who surprised BC with an end of year 2013 donation – Many thanks! 

To Brights who prefer to help with small amounts across the year, our thanks go to you, too! 

And if you use the special Bright's website route whenever you shop at Amazon, you’re really helping!  Don't think you are not. It may not pay our hardworking staff (we do need direct donations), but regularly done by enough Brights, those Amazon commissions help us keep the lights on, pay legally required fees, and sustain the Internet connections  ;-)

From Brights Central:  Our appreciation goes to all of you!

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Organizational “Stuff”

Part 1: So Far

“The Brights’ Net” is the organization that supports the communications and action hub of “the Brights.” Chartered in California as a nonprofit corporation, The Brights’ Net (TBN) was designed by its founders to operate as a constituency of individuals.

As regards political statements and publications and affiliations, this means that “Brights Central” does not vote or take positions on behalf of “the Brights”. 

It is our policy that Brights Central's public representation of Brights, clusters of Brights, or all Brights is restricted to matters that clearly impinge on public understanding of the vision, aims, and principles of the Brights movement as described on the website: the-brights.net.

Hence, while “Central” conveys vision and over-arching principles, and also coordinates finances and everyday operations of the public benefit corporation, it is left to the individuals (“the Brights”) in the constituency to speak for themselves on the issues of concern to them. In keeping with stated guidelines, BC can make statements substantiated by information that it obtains from communications with active constituents.

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Organizational “Stuff” Part 2: A Slight Shift (USA)

The Brights’ Net itself has maintained and continues to preserve independence from other bodies. If anyone cares, we do have a slight organizational shift within the organization to report that involves relationship to another organization. 

When the Secular Coalition for America recently revised its by-laws and created a nonvoting affiliate membership, BC reconsidered The Brights’ Net’s positioning with respect to SCA.

Although invited to be a founding and voting member when that secular lobbying entity was established, The Brights’ Net did not accept. Instead, we arranged structurally that interested Brights could indicate and provide their personal support as Special Initiative Group 1, named “Brights Action (SCA)”. 

With the new situation at SCA, “Brights Central” has arranged that SIG1 Brights will obtain affiliate status in the Secular Coalition for America as “Brights Action – USA, requiring modest annual dues.

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