The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #76
August 31, 2009

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


BRIGHTS' BULLETIN -- SEPTEMBER 2009


Another Nation "Brightens"

Sergej is the first Bright to register from Belarus, thereby adding a new nation to the Brights' international listing, which now has registrants in 185 different UN-identified countries.


A New Enthusiastic Bright

Now we have two "Enthusiastic Brights" named Dan. Dan #1 (Professor Dennett) is known for philosophizing in multiple arenas, while our new Dan is knee deep and sky high in astronomy and astrophysics.

Dr. Dan Hooper is Associate Scientist in the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at Fermilab and Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.

Acknowledged activists like these two Dans help promote the Brights movement and do what Brights (as Dr. Dennett proposes) should do: make the naturalistic worldview seem attractive, as it is, and help to give other people "...a frame for how they think about everything, not just religion, but about ESP and superstitions of all sorts, astrology; a way of disciplining [their] thought."


Morality Project Review Panelists

We are grateful to the researchers and ethicists who scrutinized the Morality Project's four assertions, examined nominated studies, and either provided full authentication or supplied remarks both prompting and enabling some further clarification to simplify wording of our "scientifically defensible statements":

  • Oliver Curry (Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Oxford)
  • Herbert Gintis (Santa Fe Institute)
  • Joshua Greene (Department of Psychology, Harvard University)
  • Marc Hauser (Cognitive Evolution Laboratory, Harvard University)
  • Jessica Pierce (University of Colorado Health Sciences Center)
  • Peter Singer (Princeton University)

At Brights Central (BC), we are currently compiling feedback received from these reviewers and will be sending it along this week to project leader Ruban. The coming month should permit our posting the assertions on the website, along with a full listing of supporting studies and the "most helpful readings" identified by the panelists. That action will bring Project Area B to a conclusion.


In over the Transom

When a Bright with an artistic flair starts playing around with the Brights icon, one never knows what one will see. A fish? An octopus? A bird? A star fish? A palm tree? How about ALL of these? To see the tropical scene Marcos envisioned, populated by diverse iconic forms, go to our Expressions & Illuminations Page.


Wow - A Facebook Boost?

A nice bump in signups put August registrations higher than those in any similar period of the previous 10 months. Of the 656 individuals registering on the main site, some were already identifying as Brights on Facebook (a suggestion by Peter, our summer intern, was that they be invited register on the main site, if they hadn't done so already).

It shouldn't be too long before the constituency breaks through the 50,000 count. We'd like that to happen during 2009, so be sure to do your part by telling others to check out the Brights' website. (The easy route to recommend is: "Just Google Brights").


Weaving the Fabric

One aspect of BC's commitment to the overall Brights' endeavor involves connecting the broader community of people who have a naturalistic worldview with one another. We often do this by sending out selective "BrightenOps" (opportunities of possible interest).

EXAMPLE: Just recently, the Madison (WI) Brights informed BC of the group's collaboration with local humanists and skeptics to host a presentation by the new director of the Secular Coalition for America. In hopes that more people might attend that event to learn about the SCA's activities, BC sent a "BrightenOp" to 885 Wisconsin Brights to inform them about the gathering.

As BC staff has limited time available, a local event must be seen to align well with aims and principles of the overall movement before we will alert Brights in the surrounding region. Priority for the Ops goes to positive activities, especially those that involve collaboration across varied groups. (Brights' Principle 8 is key to that "positive" criterion.)


From the Registration Inbox

Ken (Hawaii, USA): "This is the umbrella I've been looking for."

Laurie (California, USA): "I have long felt that I am a tiny speck in a sea of people whose lives are run by belief in supernatural, mystical, magical thinking. I think it might be interesting to find other like-minded individuals, maybe considering that we may influence our societies in a good way."

Julie (Great Britain): "July, came across you, I felt lost..."

Erica (Texas, USA): "I've been an atheist my entire life and I've had to fight my own family for the right to do so. Now I am raising my own children and I'd like the information to pass onto them while they are growing in our "bright" family so they can make their own educated decisions about their beliefs. We are so grateful organizations like this exist."

Donald (Florida, USA): "I am glad to find a group of like-minded people, and especially pleased that many are distinguished, educated, and creative. I thought I was all alone out here. Thank you."

A.J. (Bangladesh): "I love the fact that such a thing like this even exists!"


Dublin Brights Cluster Forming

A Dublin Brights MeetUp group is being started by James with hopes to connect people in Dublin "to share opinions and views and also to take appropriate action to make more people aware of the goals and ideals of the Bright movement and of The Dublin Brights Meetup Group."


Still Another Cluster Forming

The Morgantown Brights is a West Virginia University-based "community service group that meets every other week for great discussions and volunteer activities."

Those interested in participating can also e-mail to: brightermotown@yahoo.com 


BC is Tweeting Bright Actions

The Brights' Net has just completed its first month on Twitter. So, now your friends can go there to glimpse actions by Brights. During August, the Brights named below were acknowledged on Twitter for an activity.

ADVANCING THE MOVEMENT: Manuel (Germany), Derek (Scotland), Pierra (Quebec), and in the USA: Vera, Massachusetts / Marcos, District of Columbia / Daniel, Michigan / Gail, Colorado / Patricio, Maryland / Davis, Idaho / Kevin, Nebraska / Julia, California

MAKING THE WORLD A BIT BETTER Thanks to Richard (Wisconsin), Jim (New Mexico), Don (Arizona), Grace (Illinois), and George and Debbie (Virginia) for their emailed reports.

We tweet in spurts (as time permits and as information flows in.) Help us to show constructive activities by Brights. Being on Twitter is an experiment, and it depends on participation.


Tell Us What You Are Doing

"What are you doing?" That's the question one answers with a tweet on Twitter.

At Brights Central, we'd like to hear what YOU are doing (in your own way) to [1] advance the Brights movement or [2] "do good" as a Bright in the world at large. Please inform BC of a gratifying activity in either of these realms.

Of course, we don't mean reporting what you are doing at the exact moment. We welcome information about what you do regularly or did anytime rather recently. We can recast your information into just 140 characters and post a tweet for others to read. Who will read it?--ALL who are following The Brights' Net on Twitter. And they can tell their friends about it, too. Examples help to get across the idea of Brights engaging in principled actions.

Email your activity to the-brights@the-brights.net so that a volunteer can compile and translate the information. If you expect us to tweet, then you must also provide your LOCATION and put TWITTER in your subject line.  Alternatively, if you have a Twitter account, write it yourself and use the hashtag #AsABright.  We do ask that you include your location to illustrate the geographic diversity of constituents.


Jewish Brights (SIG4JB)

There are Jewish Brights who wish to further the aims of the Brights movement within secular and humanistic Judaism. If that fits you, then you are invited to register in Brights' Action Group SIG4JB. Through this type of group, BC hopes members can further pursue the ideals of building bridges between brights and supers, with supers gaining better understanding of the naturalistic worldview and those who hold it.

Besides creating a bit of camaraderie, SIG leader Marvin Rosenblum hopes members will organize themselves into a cohesive group to heighten personal Jewish awareness and imbue the concepts of secular and humanistic Judaism to others whose heritage is Jewish, and who may or may not be affiliated with a synagogue and/or a traditional denomination.

Prospective members may be unaware that there are so many like-thinking individuals. SIG4JB's pluralistic ideals can be assertively endorsed and contribute to Judaism's amalgamation into the world's countless advocates for individual self determination free of the concept of divine interference.


On the Bright Side at Cambridge

An article on the Brights appeared in the official student newspaper of Cambridge University, UK (The Cambridge Student, Issue 7, 2009).

Thom, its author, reports: "I wrote it to launch Christ's College Brights - a Brights group for members of Christ's College, Cambridge. We now have about 30 active members." (The student newspaper has a distribution near 10,000.)


Word Stuff, Continued

Mike (USA): "Some opinions I have read consider Bright to be an arrogant term, but I disagree. I think it is uplifting and has the positive connotation that atheist obviously does not. I commend your work, thank you."

Jaime (Mexico): "I never liked the word atheism since many superstitious people claim to be atheists."

Joel (Canada): "A fantastic idea to be rid of the negative ideas associated with the terms usually given to such beliefs."

Gregg (New York, USA): [Heard] "years ago, just late in deciding I could live with the term. The thought of being a Bright Green Atheist was just too good to pass up."

BC to Gregg: And how does a "Green Atheist Bright" sound to you? If you can handle the rearrangement, we'd urge its use, at least for a while (until Brights themselves get better at fully assimilating the naturalistic worldview meaning). You and others can help speed that along by consistently placing the neologism in an "obviously a noun" position.


Forum's Evo-Ed Flyer Moves Another Step

Thanks go to the SIG 2 (Categorically Sound Science) Brights for offering suggestions of suitable (captivating, readily available, understandable) resources for the Forum's draft flyer on evolution. [Discussants had been considering potential resources to guide neophytes toward understanding of key concepts of evolutionary theory.] Thanks, too, to the USA-based National Center for Science Education, whose deputy-director offered his suggestions.

Once the evo-ed flyer is finalized with its limited book list, BC will make that version available online for downloading. The concept of compiling a broader array of good resources (including other media than books) in a companion bibliography (for teachers, or for those who have deeper interest) is also under consideration.


News: Winning a Big One (USA)

Congratulations go to the American Atheist organization, which was among the plaintiffs to file suit challenging a governmental action (calling on God to protect Kentuckians). This month a Kentucky Circuit Court ruled that the state's Office of Homeland Security violated the separation of church and state when it erected a plaque calling upon "Almighty God" to protect citizens from "acts of war or terrorism."

Since Brights would likely have interest in the topic, BC had sent an email BrightenOp blast to all Kentucky Brights (1,416) notifying them of the suit. Also, we should note that Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists and the attorney who argued the case for the plaintiffs, has been an Enthusiastic Bright since very early in the Brights movement.


New York Bound

We will certainly miss Peter, the NYU journalism student who helped out at Brights Central for two months this summer. The-Brights.Net office is located only about 3 km from the state capitol building in Sacramento California, USA, and Peter was able to combine his activities at BC with a formal internship in a key state government office close by. He has now headed back to college.

While working for the Brights, Peter stimulated some youthful interest in forming campus groups and also suggested several new activities that BC has implemented. Additionally, he has prepared in draft form some materials for BC that will likely make their way onto the website in the near future.

BC's first intern experience has been so satisfying (according to Peter - it's mutual) that if any college student in Sacramento would like to apply for a similar opportunity, then email to the-brights@the-brights.net (Put INTERN in the subject line and briefly introduce yourself.)


Brights in Prison

The project continues to grow, with three new subscribers this month to Joel's "A Little Brightness" newsletter.

From Daniel (incarcerated in California): "Nothing would make me happier than to be registered as a Bright. The naturalistic worldview describes me perfectly."


Books by Brights

Two additions to the library listing come from new Enthusiastic Bright Dan Hooper. A description of each item is at each link.

NATURE'S BLUEPRINT: Supersymmetry and the Search for a Unified Theory of Matter and Force

DARK COSMOS: In Search of Our Universe's Missing Mass and Energy 


Turning up the Brightness in Texas (USA)

A heads-up message was sent to all Texas Brights (1,400) noting that the American Humanist Association was petitioning the Texas State Board of Education on an important curricular issue.

In the BrightenOp message, BC stated: "We think that notifying Brights about the existence of this AHA-proposed action is a better route than initiating an entirely separate action. Curricular decisions in Texas carry influence with publishers, and the AHA is opposing any 'revisionist history' in which the social studies curriculum overstates the role of religion in American history and misconstrues the relationship between religion and government."


How I Heard About the Brights - Around the World

In recent months the Bulletin has included one person's interesting story and invited other submissions. (Email any that might be unusual to the-brights@the-brights.net with HOW I HEARD in your subject line.) Of those submissions this month, this one drew notice:

From Foivos (Canada): "I heard about the Brights from my hairstylist. Who would have known?"

You see? Tell others, it works!


Poeticals

From Art, a Bright in Georgia, USA: "So many gods, so many creeds, So many paths that wind and wind, While just the art of being kind, is all this sad world needs." Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1919-1950)

By Margaret, a Bright in the UK: "In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly, But Westward look - the land is Bright."


Do You Know How to Contact?

Rachel stated in her registration: "I first heard of The Brights through a band's website, www.thecure.com"

Others have also mentioned having initially found the Brights through the link on this band's website. BC ran into a dead end in its effort to contact someone in this group. If you are a band member (or if you know a direct email to the group), please email the-brights@the-brights.net with CURE in your subject line.


A Turkish Brights' Blog Spot

From Turkey: "Glad to inform you that we have published a blog in Turkish language. The blog contains translation of all official info in The-Brights.net. Also a link to the Turkish Brights FaceBook group." 


Polish Brights

Some Polish Brights are active in trying to change the current policies regarding teaching religion in the public schools.


Amazon Purchases Aid Movement

In the last month Brights purchased $2,969 from Amazon.com, providing $201 to The Brights Net. What an easy way to support the Brights!!!

Categories tapped this month: Video Games, Sports and Outdoors, Music, Magazine, Subscriptions, Kitchen and Housewares, Health and Personal, Grocery, Electronics, DVD, Cell Phones and the most used category of all--Books!

Amazon.com direct link for easy access (USA)

Both Amazon.com and UK Amazon can be reached via the search-boxes at the Books page.

In August, the UK's access route yielded GBP 19.5 (all proceeds go to the UK Brights).

When you route yourself through the appropriate URL, you will "arrive" on Amazon's site, but you will NOT see any references to The Brights' Net. Nevertheless, the Brights WILL receive from 4 to 8% on any purchase(s) you make at the time, with no additional cost to you!


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