The Brights' Bulletin
November 30, 2007
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
DECEMBER 2007 BULLETIN
ONE NAMIBIAN BRIGHT!
The recent registration by Jottie in the Republic of Namabia (on the Atlantic coast of southern Africa) has upped the count of nations represented within the constituency of Brights to 147 out of the 192 by United Nations’ count.
The processing of the video footage Brights Central received last month is under way, but with so much “footage,” it is proving a long and tedious task. The remarks by Daniel Dennett, Paul Geisert, Hemant Mehta, Mynga Futrell, James White, and Margaret Downey yielded lots of great material from which to choose. Stay tuned.
TAGLINE SURVEY RESULTS
A clear majority of survey respondents viewed “Illuminating and Elevating the Naturalistic Worldview” as an improvement over the original tagline, which lacked the “illuminating” concept. Despite the more complex wording, perhaps the majority saw value to having a tie-in with the concept of light.
Still, some folks using the survey were irritated by the light connection, and sufficiently so to write in panning the idea (“illuminati” and “new age” were referenced, for example). However, that was only a tiny handful of the 680 respondents. A larger number - about two dozen altogether - were spurred to write in, asking why their preference, a simple “Illuminating the Naturalistic Worldview,” had not been offered as an option.
Frankly, the Brights movement, properly understood, is very much a “lift up” endeavor. Its overall purpose is to raise the social and civic status of brights of whatever stripes. It is fine for Brights to focus on disclosing and elucidating their “no supernatural ingredients” worldview. But the “illuminating” aspect just won’t get the job done! There’s going to be more to our task than just shining a light of awareness on a type of worldview.
The goal of this movement is to achieve a level societal playing field for people who, living amidst society’s dominant supernatural-infused outlooks, hold onto some variant of a naturalistic worldview. The long-term effort must be to “raise up” as well as “light up.” Illuminate is a first step, but to elevate is the really hard part. Big mountain ahead to climb! Eye on the prize!
THE YOUNGEST BRIGHT
Alyssa, age 9 (USA) may hold title to being the world’s youngest registered Bright. She states in the open comments space on her registration: “I am 9 yrs old and I am really excited to be signing up for cool things (not about god) all ready!” Among the youngsters who responded to last month’s invitation to nominate themselves were Daniel (U.K.) and Joe (?). Both are 13 years of age. Anton (Italy) and Zoe (USA) are 15.
As Richard Dawkins points out in “The God Delusion” (page 338), The-Brights.net is “scrupulous in setting out the rules for children to sign up: ‘The decision to be a Bright must be the child’s. Any youngster who is told he or she must, or should, be a Bright can NOT be a Bright.’ Can you even begin to imagine a church or mosque issuing such a self-denying ordinance? But shouldn’t they be compelled to do so?”
The “rules” to which Professor Dawkins referred were first enunciated in November of 2003 (Bulletin #7). If you are interested in reading the complete policy (since presented on the website), go to:
HOLIDAY SEASON SHOPPING?
Books? Electronics? Toys? Music? Tools? TVs? Games? Apparel? - Buy ANYTHING from Amazon through the Brights’ site and you send along to The Brights’ Net 6% or more of the sale – at NO additional cost to you! Except for the direct donations received from Brights themselves, the commission from Amazon has proved to be the most important source of funds for this organization so far.
There are two Amazon websites, U.S. and U.K. From North America, you access the American site while from anywhere in the U.K., you must use the United Kingdom site. The Brights’ links to both sites are found at:
Sometimes Brights Central gets chastised for having Brights’ products, but in reality we get lots of new registrants asking, “Where can I get a T-shirt (or X, or Y)?” Much of the merchandise is sold close to cost, simply to get the word out about the movement. Listed here is the full spectrum of items that support the Brights’ endeavor either by money or method.
***Luminous 2008 Calendars. Be ready for the New Year! Order your own Brights’ calendar (US$ 15.04). While you are at it, you can order a few extras to give to others. Being free of mention of religion or nation, they will “work” for a surprisingly wide range of people. These calendars are truly unique! They show interesting aspects of human progress. And, where else does “Towel Day” have a spot of its own? This “print-on-demand” calendar is available to preview/purchase at:
***Brights T-shirts, bumper stickers, license plate frames, journals, framed prints, and much, much more. Check the full directory of items at:
***Brights Lapel Pins. Review the image and order at:
***NEWEST ITEM: Static Cling Decals. These are perfect for windows! Peel off the backing, and it will cling to any glass surface. Removable. Spread news of the website this way. You can take a look at the Brights’ Cling and/or order at:
Be sure to click the appropriate PayPal button to match desired quantity (purchase via PayPal or credit card).
Individual Clings = US $2 each
Small Cluster (5 clings = US $5)
Large Cluster (15 clings = US $10) – a bargain at 67 cents a decal
EMAIL INBOX – HAPPY BRIGHTS
Ryan (MA, USA): “It's a wonderful thing that the Brights’ net exists. Not very often do I get to be reminded that holding the beliefs I do doesn't have to separate me from society.”
Edward (MO, USA): “Thank you for providing such a wonderful shelter and "safe harbor" from the nonsensical patterns of behavior the rest of the world is pursuing.”
Gianpolo (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.”
Daniel (Nottinghamshire, 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!”
David (Texas, USA): “glad to see this community exists. my lifelong ‘crisis of faith’ has turned into a clarity of the mind”
BRIGHTS WITH EXPERIENCE!
When Forrest (Los Angeles) registered as a Bright, he mentioned that he was almost 91 years old. That tidbit spurred us to ask last month if anyone receiving the Bulletins was older than he. Sorry, Forrest, you didn’t quite top the list. The two oldest registered Brights (as far as we know) were born three days apart. Both are 92 years old. Jack M. was born 9/23/1915 and currently lives in San Francisco, California. Dan M. (Ohio) was born 9/26/1915. In third place is Jack’s wife Minerva, at 91 years.
Incidentally, Jack and Minerva were almost the first individuals to learn about the Brights. Prior to the time the “Bright idea” was made public, they had viewed the draft PowerPoint and provided Co-directors with some good comments. Then, at the first public presentation (the 2003 convention of the Atheist Alliance International), the material was again presented. Seated in the audience that day was the noted science writer and skeptic, Michael Shermer, who signed up on the spot as a Bright. Later that same weekend, so did the renowned scientist and atheist, Richard Dawkins and the magician and skeptic, James Randi. All three did so with pen on paper. A couple of months later the website went live, and the three were pictured there as “Enthusiastic Brights.” They still are.
ACTION IDEA FOR BRIGHTS (USA)
“Discussants” in “discussion forums” do tend to live up to the name! Still, The Brights’ Net supplies a special Action Forum to facilitate creative brainstorming and analysis of action proposals. Even there, the pattern matches the main discussion forums. There is an overabundance verbal exchanges on definitional matters and a paucity of collaborative action geared toward the civic aims of the movement.
Yesterday, one Bright bluntly posted his disappointment about the absence of “common cause” action, calling the Brights Forums “a delightful and refreshing place to chat” but noting that there is any number of positive actions that could be taken if only participants could “turn away from the constant introspection.” What with 2008 being an election year in the US, and Americans having to choose a replacement for the current president, his first recommendation was this: “We should focus on obtaining a statement in support of separation of church and state from at least one candidate.”
Time’s a wastin’!
Five Brights have taken on the challenge of being bulldogs, sniffing out online misrepresentations of the Brights movement and dashing in to post appropriate responses when locating a fallacy. The previous bulletin has details the parallel to Thomas Huxley’s defense of Darwin’s ideas:
More news next month.
TO ADVERTISE, OR NOT?
We asked, in the last newsletter, for viewpoints, saying: “We have leaned against advertising, to a large extent for aesthetic reasons. With more funding comes more visibility and activism. What is your opinion? - Put discrete advertisements on the website or not?”
Here is just a smattering of the more direct (and opposing) advice received. As expected of Brights, a diversity of opinions! Next month, we will report out a sampling from some of the more nuanced and strategic recommendations. Thanks, everyone!
--------- JUST FINE TO ADVERTISE ----------
A little ad money can go a long way. Money is the only way to power. I think we should worry about being practical before we worry about being beautiful. Besides, we see so many advertisements nobody will even notice a few more. Josh
I think that advertising on the Brights’ site is a positive idea. It would give Brights in decision making positions within companies a chance to support the web site and the cause. Jason
Actually, I would be interested in supporting companies that advertise on your site. - Joe
I don't think there is anything wrong with advertising. Why shouldn't we put our money where our mouth is? For years, the Christian right has been controlling what we see on TV, hear on radio and read in newspapers by controlling the ad dollars those media receive. Don't follow the line and it's boycott time. Why not take a page from their book and, at least, spend our money on advertisers who, if they don't support free thought, are willing to tolerate it.
Yes. Begin advertising. It not only brings in dough to pay for what you are doing but identifies that commerce and the First Amendment are NOT adversaries. Discreet advertising! Please go for it!
Generating income through hosting adverts is a sensible way to raise funds. Do it.
Yes – let’s advertise - I feel that we need to earn money to spread the word - so many people just need to learn of us.
--------- OH PLEASE, NO!!! ---------
NO- to advertising on website. The road to hell is... (you know the line).
The-Brights.net is an oasis of calm and sanity in an otherwise overcluttered world. Let's keep it that way.
I strongly disagree (=I oppose the idea of putting advertisements on the website). I think it would seriously weaken the ambition of being taken seriously as promoting a naturalistic world-view, to have advertisements placed on the web-site, the content of which it is difficult to maintain control. I personally do not want to waste time on websites featuring advertisements, since I find them a nuisance, and I am afraid it could scare off interested parties, and weaken the overall cause.
to maintain the appropriate image on our site, one of integrity, i would have to vote against such measures. regards, trey
I think advertisements on the Brights site will detract from the spirit of the site. They would not bother me personally, because I don’t even see advertisements on the sites that have them. However when I do look, out of occasional curiosity, I wonder about the relationships between the sites and the advertisers.
i admire the intentions behind the suggestion to add advertising to the brights website, but i think it would feel awfully strange for a non-profit organization to engage in advertising. since we provide information and not a product, people may assume at first glance that our site is a spam site, there only to generate revenue. they might come to our site from a search engine, get distracted by the ads, and miss our message entirely. additionally, when using ad systems, because of our relation to religion, we may get wholly inappropriate ads, such as those for churches or bibles.
Advertising, no matter how well selected, includes a point of view. If you start accepting ads, you will lose control of, and compromise, the point of view you want to put forth.
I really hope, this movement is strong enough to survive and prosper on its own base.
From Andy (UK): “We need to move from simply criticizing… religion to offering the inspiration of a popular alternative!”
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION
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To advance the civic aims and principles of the movement.
Bright Regards from Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights' Net