The Brights' Bulletin
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
The Brights' Bulletin #30 - October 31, 2005
BRIGHTS' EMAIL/WEBSITE FELL BEFORE WILMA
The Brights' Net email fell into darkness as Hurricane Wilma overwhelmed our Verio servers in Boca Raton, Florida. If you sent an email and got no response, it is either because we have been set behind in our work, or because it disappeared into the great void. We could not access the website for any editing for a couple of days, but then it settled down and was stable.
"I AM A BRIGHT," SAYS PINKER
Stephen Pinker, author of "The Blank Slate," recently spoke on his book at the University of California at Davis. Going to hear the presentation, we (Paul and Mynga) took along our copy in hopes of getting a signature.
When tendering the book after the talk, we accompanied it with one of the Brights' mini-fliers (available for downloading at the website). Glancing at that, Dr. Pinker straight away said aloud with all around, "Oh, I am a Bright." An invitation to be pictured as such on the website followed immediately and drew an instant, "Certainly." Consequently, Dr. Pinker has joined the array of luminaries who are Enthusiastic Brights. View at: http://the-brights.net/people/enthusiastic/#stevenpinker/
Those quarter-page Brights' fliers were produced as a way to expose others to the Brights movement. From this circumstance with Dr. Pinker, we see that they can also be used to remind “people already with us" to say so. You can obtain some to have handy for your own purposes at:
HTML OPTION TO BE TESTED
Our database provider, SalsaLabs, has informed us that we now have text-compatible HTML. In short, we can send an HTML document that can be read as text by text-based computers. Consequently, we are sending out a trial document during November to test the situation. Webmaster Kevin advises us that there may be some problems with older computers, but we expect to handle those. It's worth a try, and we will be asking you to report any concerns or problems.
INTELLIGENT DESIGN STATEMENT ENDORSED BY 3,769 BRIGHTS HOW IT HAPPENED
The issue of teaching Intelligent Design in science classes is at the forefront of an important legal case taking place right now in the United States. A recent "Brighten Opportunity" invited Bulletin subscribers to "speak" on the concept. Thanks to all who responded. We are pleased that 3857 participated in the poll.
Please note: Registered Brights who do not receive Bulletins have no opportunity to participate in polls on issues or to engage in other "BrightenOp" actions. Because this action regarding ID will not otherwise appear in any Bulletins archived at the website, here (for the Bulletin record) is the statement that the poll respondents voted to support or not support.
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Various school boards and communities in the United States are trying to introduce Intelligent Design (ID) into public school science classes. ID advocates may, by and large, believe ID to be scientifically credible. Then again, perhaps some of the proponents are trying by essentially surreptitious means to introduce religious beliefs into science programs. Whatever the impetus, the ID endeavor disregards the definition of science and must be rejected. Intelligent Design has no valid place in a science curriculum. It is not science.
Science deals empirically with reality. In fact, central to scientific method is that its ideas about the natural world can be tested, replicated, and verified. Unlike science's account of the evolution of life on earth, the ID explanation postulates ideas that can not be observed or confirmed. By looking upon a designer as necessary to account for the origin and development of life, ID breaches science as a discipline.
The scientific process, with its rigorous methods of confirmation, is the best means to understanding our world, and no nation can expect to fare well if its citizens are confused about or misinformed in science. The Intelligent Design movement presents an impediment to educating students for our scientifically-oriented world. It is a grievous threat to the academic integrity of education.
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Besides those who supported it, 88 Brights rejected the above statement. Some comments e-mailed to Brights Central indicate that some of those may have misunderstood the yes/no, but others offered a rationale in support of teaching ID. Uniformity of opinion is not expected. As Principle 1 of the Brights movement states, Brights are of one mind only regarding its definition and three aims. http://the-brights.net/vision/principles.html
BRIGHTS SPEAKING OUT AS BRIGHTS
There have to date been several BrightenOps inviting individuals to take actions independently as they saw fit. In response, Brights who liked the suggestion (and had energy to act) have written letters to editors or to organizations, spoken with friends, or have taken some other action on their own. Those who opposed the suggested action simply ignored it (or perhaps wrote BC with their displeasure).
Given that there is now a statement on Intelligent Design, we sense an opportunity for those Brights who would wish to magnify the number of readers of the material. This is particularly important for Pennsylvanians, Kansans, and Brights anywhere that Intelligent Design is becoming an educational issue.
YOU MAY SEND THE BRIGHTS' ID STATEMENT TO FRIENDS, TO YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD AND/OR TO YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER
Here is an opportunity to broaden awareness of the Brights movement. With the existing statement, you have something you can send to others along with the notion of "Who are the Brights?" and, of course, the website URL. You can frame the material verbatim (all 211 words of it) inside your own phrasing, saying something like: "I am adding my support to a statement endorsed by 3,769 Brights."
We would welcome any Bright "adopting" the main theme and "adapting" text portions of the ID Statement for letters to editors. If need be, pare down the material to meet the publication guidelines. Customize the version to incorporate your own wording preferences. In all such instances, sign your own name to the letter.
PRESS RELEASE SAGA -- THE PROCESS
The Intelligent Design "speak out by Brights" is the first time BC has taken action to assess the degree to which there might be communal opinion on any given issue. The experience has been interesting (and time-consuming), in part because of the interactions with and involvement of Brights throughout the process.
1) BC drafted a "starter statement" for Bulletin subscribers and welcomed input to the draft. Over 200 individuals supplied over 70 pages (!) of response.
2) Co-Directors rewrote the draft based on the many suggestions and comments.
3) The rewrite was sent to 10 Brights (of the 200) for suggested final changes.
4) Co-Directors made final rewrite.
5) The final statement was sent via a special Emailing (BrightenOp) inviting recipients to go to the poll.
6) A press release was constructed to frame how the statement was developed.
7) The press release was send to Ewordldwire.com which edited it to news service standards.
8) Eworldwire.com released it the morning of the 31st.
You can read the final release at: http://newsroom.eworldwire.com/wr/103105/13005.htm
You can also email this URL to others, inviting them to read it. The release cost $210 to send to all major news wires and over 100 top circulation newspapers. It was also supplied to over 600 freethought organizations world-wide.
The process was set off by a decisive legal case in the United States (in Federal Court at Harrisburg, PA). However, at an Australian Bright's insistence (matched with his offer of coordination), arrangements are being made to release the ID statement in Australia.
EQUINOX FUND DRIVE We much appreciate all of you who recently supported the movement with a seasonal donation. You will shortly be receiving a letter of thanks and, if applicable to your location, a U.S. federal tax deductibility statement. If your intention to donate slipped by, you can find information on the website at: http://www.the-brights.net/action/support/#financial
The September Equinox fund drive has yielded The Brights' Net adequate funds to carry through the next six months. Hooray! We are definitely able to continue on and also maintain hopes of acquiring an assistant eventually. We maintain the longer-term goal of a fully-funded organization with a small office space and Executive Director. (The Co-Directors are also hoping to someday get back their living and dining rooms, which as anyone will see who might happen to visit, is the current office space for the Brights.)
CHILDREN'S SONGBOOK PROJECT
Essentials of Message from Team Leader, Tony:
Children of Brights need to sing, but the presently existing song material is either inappropriate or lies under copyright. Let's start from scratch.
As a first step, we need to engage the poets in our midst to write lyrics. Once a collection is made, the membership can decide which are fitting. Be aware that you will be given credit as the author, but will be giving up ownership for any submissions you might make. It will be a contribution to the Brights' Net organization.
As to the nature of the lyrics, please consider the following:
1. For ages pre-school through 9, lyrics ought to be concrete, keeping in mind that a unicorn and a dragon are fictional but have decidedly cultural realities that are frequently pictured. Emotions like love are abstractions that need special attention if these subjects are considered.
2. While children are capable of polysyllabic texts, words that are difficult to pronounce, have esoteric meanings, or are otherwise questionable need to be avoided. Nevertheless, with the insight of genius, many rules can be broken, e.g., supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
3. Try out the lyrics on children you know to test their appeal and suitability.
If you are interested in participating or have questions, contact Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know what it is you are working on.
As a second step, once lyrics are generated and selected, we can put the composers in our midst to work. Phase 2 will be announced later.
VISIT WITH PORTLAND BRIGHTS
We Co-Directors really enjoyed our brief stay in the lovely city of Portland. Sorry we missed those of you who couldn't make it. Thanks to Ann, Bill, and Dennis, who announced and coordinated a meeting in Ann's home for interested persons from the Portland Humanists. It was a delightful evening.
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Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert
Webmaster: Kevin Schultz
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BLC Coordinator: Tammy Richard
Outreach Coordinator: Debra Deanne Olson