The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #53
September 31, 2007

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


OCTOBER 2007 BULLETIN

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FIRST TIME LATE!

At the international conference in Washington D.C. we (co-directors) were attending, technical problems between laptop and hotel communications prevented us from either receiving or sending email for the duration! Consequently, for the first time in The Brights' Net's four-year history, a Brights' Bulletin is being sent out downright late! Having arrived back in California, we find an accumulation of over 1,635 emails waiting to be sifted. [Sigh] We apologize for the delay in responding to various inquiries; we are processing all as quickly as possible.

Three different items in this Bulletin speak to the conference itself. We have placed them at the END of the Bulletin, after Brights-focused material.

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BRIGHTS VIDEO SHOOT ACCOMPLISHED

The convention did present Brights Central (BC) with a unique opportunity to proceed on its long-desired video shoot for an "Introduction to the Movement." The purpose was to interview some Enthusiastic Brights in attendance and use their perspectives to prepare appropriate material about the Brights' endeavor for posting on the website and YouTube.

Thanks to donations received at the March Equinox, BC was able to arrange a professional taping session for Sept. 29 at the airport hotel location. (Only a few repeats were necessitated by the roar of a plane coming in or going out nearby). Daniel Dennett, Margaret Downey, and Hemant Mehta participated, as did the two co-directors and James, a young parent who is a new Bright.

James' wife, Liz, who is experienced in making professional training videos, is serving as volunteer producer for the project. Both directed the professional camera crew at the shoot and will be cooperating with BC in editing acquired material into small conceptual segments appropriate to the overall intent. It looks like we've got some absolutely excellent video from the shoot with which to explain this movement!

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A WORLD OF WISDOM IN A SINGLE PACKAGE

Lao Tsu, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Galileo, Marie Curie, Andre Cide, Denis Diderot, Epictetus, Helen Keller

QUESTION: What is it that all these folks have in common?

ANSWER: These twelve persons are all quoted in the 2008 Brights' Calendar.

The Brights' Forum team carefully selected each month's quotation and meaningfully matched it to a striking visual.

In this calendar, the naturalistic worldview shines through. (This generic version has no national or religious holidays.) The $2 above printing cost benefits The Brights' Net.

There is simply no other annual calendar like this one! Preview and/or purchase ($15.04 USD) at: http://lulu.com/content/1098547

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MORALITY PROJECT: TWO DOWN, TWO TO GO

MP Leader, Ruban, reports to BC (Oct. 1): "I am very pleased to announce that, in light of the analysis of the research studies, you can mark Statements A and B of the Brights Morality Project VERIFIED... Work on Statements C and D is in progress."

This is a hopeful sign that we are approaching the point where the MP team can shift gears and get the ball rolling on 'peer review' verification by a scientific panel. In light of the recent zeitgeist, a media rollout in the near future would be advantageous on several counts.

To see the two completed morality assertions (and the two remaining), go to:
http://the-brights.net/action/activities/organized/arenas/1/area_a/declaration.html

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BRIGHTS OR SUPERS - WHO IS MORE GENEROUS?

There are no data on this exact generosity question. Still, perhaps a closely-related comparison is worth noting. Consider this recent quote from Enthusiastic Bright, Michael Shermer:

"Arthur C. Brooks' data in his 2006 book ‘Who Really Cares' show[s] that religious conservatives donate 30 percent more money than liberals and nonreligious people (even when controlled for income)... [R]eligious people are four times more generous than secularists to all charities, 10 percent more munificent to non-religious charities... Those raised in intact and religious families are more charitable than those who are not."
http://www.edge.org/discourse/moral_religion.html#shermer

Since another equinox has just rolled by, it may be time to tweak your competitive spirit on such matters?

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EQUINOX IN REARVIEW

If you have not responded yet to the recent equinox fund drive by contributing, please do check out the following link to read online the equinox donation message itself and to examine the "four activity snapshots" (including the graph of recent registrations):
http://www.the-brights.net/funding/

Thanks to all who have donated already to this semi-annual opportunity to give personal support to a growing movement. Send what you can to sustain and strengthen our overall endeavor. Enable Brights Central to coordinate priority projects! Whatever the donation amount, each Bright who responds is providing marvelous encouragement. We've got important aims! Bringing them to fruition is up to Brights themselves!

To donate right now, please go to:
http://the-brights.net/funding/supportbrights/

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NEW BANNER IMAGE NOW AVAILABLE

Webmasters and BLC leaders especially should take note: There's new professionally-designed graphic material on the website that you may want to check out. The original artwork was done for the large vertical display banner that Brights Central will be using at key events, such as conventions. That image is now available to you in several sizes for downloading. BLC leaders might, for example, wish to have a small banner printed on vinyl for use at local events. The banner graphic can be sent to a commercial printer. The image is displayed at:
http://www.the-brights.net/movement/downloads/print_banners/

P.S. Many thanks to Theo for his splendid design and the expert execution of the large banner image.

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A BRIGHT'S POETIC CONTEMPLATION

Graham of Leicester, UK has sent along the following poem. His mind is on the realistic probabilities of "you turning out to be you." Dead lucky – that's you.

DEAD LUCKY

There is only one way to be alive,
Though an infinity of paths lead to "not alive."
By "not alive," I don't mean dead -
That is having been "once alive",
And though there are many ways to die
From the flailing wriggle of a sperm
To the flickering of centenarian candles,
There is only one way to be alive.
It is, make no mistake, it's true,
To have not been one of the "not alive",
Ever! It's the zillion to one chance,
Proof that your forbears did not die.
Imagine falling from a cloud
And turning into a swallow
Three feet above the golden corn;
It's that sort of chance.
Dead lucky.

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PERSONAL EXPRESSION

While in an artistic vein, take a look at four interesting approaches to spreading interest in the Brights' endeavor: "Car Art" and "Body Art." More innovations, anyone?
http://www.the-brights.net/people/expressions.html

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NATION #145 HAS ITS VERY FIRST BRIGHT

The registration by Jottie has made a difference. Welcome, Namibia, to the Brights' master listing of nations.

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MAKING THE POSITIVE SHIFTS (NEW REGISTRANTS)

Gianpaolo (Italy): "I considered myself 'atheist' before Odifreddi's book told me that I should not consider myself as a negation of something I am not interested to be, but an affirmation of what I am. Thank you."

Andy (UK): "We need to move from simply criticizing the blatant stupidity of religion to offering the inspiration of a popular alternative!"

Daniel (UK): "I can't wait to start identifying myself as a bright! It just sounds so cheerful! Although, atheist never seemed like such a depressing word in the first place...but that will not get in the way of the fact that I am a bright!"

Dave (Texas, USA): "Glad to see this community exists. My lifelong 'crisis of faith' has turned into a clarity of the mind."

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NEW PRODUCTS AT THE BRIGHTS' SHOP

LICENSE PLATE FRAMES: This item offers a wonderful way to present the URL of the website along with the tagline: "Elevating the Naturalistic Worldview" ($11.99 USD)

BUMPER STICKERS (A variety of comments are available): "Naturalistic Worldview" / "living on the bright side of life" / "Supers/Brights – One Humanity/One World" / "100% Natural Ingredients: free from all mystical and supernatural additives" / "Kindness is human – Nothing supernatural required." More, too!

Check out these new offerings in the growing collection of Brights-related items at:
http://www.cafepress.com/brightsshop/1979301

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A SURPRISE - NEW TO HER!

Marilyn (from Vista California, USA): "I had no clue there was an organization like this and am very interested in learning more about the people who share a similar world view as myself. :)"

BC's comment: This is precisely why it is important that all the Brights spread the word that the Brights organization exists!

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COUNTING NOSES / MAKING CONNECTIONS

Will Morris, Coordinator of Brights Local Constituencies (BLCs), has sent the following news regarding various online groups reaching 'hallmark' levels of membership: Myspace = 1500+; Facebook = 1111; RichardDawkins.net = 250+.

He adds: "The 'Officers' section is an option that Facebook employs whereby groups can give individual members arbitrary titles to distinguish them as outstanding members (for whatever reason). On the Brights group, I list any member who is either: [a.] wanting to start their own BLC OR [b.] a notable activist Bright."

The Brights' Network has already enabled interested Brights to organize into some geographical groupings (national, regional, local). BLC Coordinator Will Morris has established contact with 51 Brights BLCs in 16 nations. This is an example of a project that needs far more financial support than it is currently receiving (which is a token $75/month to the coordinator).
http://www.the-brights.net/community/blc/list.html

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INTERESTING STATISTICS ON BELIEF (USA)

The Harris Poll of a year ago (October 2006) is a reputable poll and one that obtained a fascinating set of data. Some data indicate that brights and supers may not be quite as far apart as is generally assumed to be the case.

Aspects of the 2006 poll indicate that brights do inhabit religious organizations. For example, take the statistic that 3% of the "Born Again Christians" category believe there is no God!
http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=707

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REJOINDER TO THE NEW ATHEISTS?

You may be interested in the essay, "Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion," by Jonathan Haidt at:
http://edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt07/haidt07_index.html

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ACADEMIC STUDIES LIFT AWARENESS!

New registrants are invited to say how they heard about the Brights. Two new answers:

Erin (Florida, USA): A professor in my graduate program recommended this to me.

Kyle (California, USA) Researching a paper for a theology class.

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INVOLVEMENT AND VISIBILITY AT ATHEIST ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

THE BANNER: In August, The Brights' Net was invited, along with some other organizations, to display its banner at the weekend Atheist Alliance International's 2007 convention. No banner existed. Given the tremendous level of attention that this particular convention was getting (due to its speaker lineup), Brights Central decided that a banner would just have to be created - and so it was. The newly-produced item - a dramatic tower-style vinyl banner seven-feet high - became a consistent visual presence at the convention. It was placed in the main ballroom. From its position proximate to the stage came the continuous message that "The Brights" are "Illuminating and Elevating the Naturalistic Worldview."
See banner graphic at:
http://www.the-brights.net/movement/downloads/print_banners/
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THE WORD: The noun Bright appears to be getting much more play than it had at last year's AAI convention. "Brights" was routinely used when an array of freethought terms was mentioned (i.e., atheists, agnostics, humanists, brights) which showed the term is developing as a "generic." This is definitive progress toward the hoped-for eventual "umbrella understanding" that "brights" is conceptually inclusive of whatever self-identities used by varied persons who fit the specific "naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural mystical" criterion.
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THE SHOCK WAVE (AFTERWARDS): Although around 300 were in attendance at the AAI convention, there was live-stream video and follow-up transcription posted by the Washington Post of one speaker's message, and so now many thousands are now discussing the recommendations in the presentation by Sam Harris, American author of "The End of Faith."

Prior writing by Harris had led to his being tagged as one of the four horsemen of the so-called "new atheism." Nonetheless, Harris stood before the attendees – all gathered together under the conference banner ("making a world of difference with a positive voice for atheism") and proposed abandonment of the term "atheist" entirely because "we have a terrible PR problem."

Humanist Network News reported Harris' explanation: "As a matter of philosophy, atheism is not a worldview. And yet it is being construed as one by its opponents and attacked as a worldview. And people have many erroneous associations with what is entailed in not believing in god. And I think we collaborate in that misunderstanding by labeling ourselves in opposition to religion... We're falling into a trap in some sense set by religious people because atheism as a term is so ill-dignified in our culture. It has such bad PR that to answer to the name of atheist in some sense already wins the argument for your religious opponent."

In fact, Harris sought elimination of people gathering together under the entire array of identity terms (including brights): "We should not call ourselves anything. We should go under the radar - for the rest of our lives. And while there, we should be decent, responsible people who destroy bad ideas wherever we find them." The applause was polite but restrained, and in the questioning afterward one woman promised to throw away her copies of the author's books.

Harris' talk ("The Problem with Atheism") is posted at:
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/sam_harris/2007/10/the_problem_with_atheism.html

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REFERENCE GUIDE TO PERSONNEL AND OTHER BRIGHTS INFORMATION

http://www.the-brights.net/reference_guide.html

All previous Bulletins may be found via the link in the right column of the home page at http://www.the-brights.net

Please $upport the civic aims and principles of The Brights Net
http://the-brights.net/action/support/

Bright Regards from Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights' Net

The Brights: Elevating the Naturalistic Worldview
(A bright is a person with a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements.)


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