The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #91
November 31, 2010

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- DECEMBER 2010 


What Just ONE Person Can Do!
 
You would probably be stunned to know how much change you alone can effect with a simple respectful message directed to the appropriate recipients. Here is an example of an action taken just this month.
 
One Bright, following the recent funeral of her 42-year old secular science-teacher daughter, was able to deal with personal distress about the discordant religious message delivered at the event by expressing her concerns where it might actually help prevent a similar situation for others. She suggested to the National Funeral Home Directors Association that an article in the newsletter from NFHD or an educational presentation at a conference could help funeral directors understand the importance of “knowing the deceased” and offering appropriate messages at a service. She directed their attention to the population of “citizens with fine values who base their beliefs on facts and science, not supernatural stories” in such a genial manner that her letter received a tremendously supportive response, with an actual commitment from the senior vice president of the Association:
 
“Thank you for sending us your story.  It’s very compelling.  I’ve shared it with our continuing education and publications staff, and I assure you that we are committed to trying to prevent similar situations in the future. Our Editor would like to include your story in a future edition of our trade journal…”
 
One key idea of the Brights movement is that our appropriate civic actions will likely be more advantageous than massive groaning amongst ourselves about the many problems. One person (perhaps you?) might do a lot for social change. No anger. No lashing out. Just following up on a hurtful circumstance in a considered and considerate way.
 
Respectful action in the civic sphere - do it whenever you can.
 

A Festive Season Arrives
 
For some, December is a time for charitable acts and gifting to family and friends. If that is part of your annual year-end traditions, then consider this question: “Have you bookmarked this pathway to Amazon via The Brights' Net?”
 
Remember that you can support The Brights’ Net with every purchase at Amazon in the UK or USA - at no extra cost to you! And not just books - anything! If you intend to shop at Amazon, start at the link on our site. Then if you do make any purchase(s) during the shopping session, a percentage of the price comes our way.
 
For more ways to support the mission and work of The Brights’ Net, see also these places on our website:
 

Loaning Also Brightens!
 
You have an opportunity to loan as well as to give. In keeping with the thrust of the Brights movement to “illuminate and elevate the naturalistic worldview,” consider joining a Kiva lending team. There is one available for those Brights who might like to microfinance individual entrepreneurs across the globe.
 
 -OR-
Another option is available for anyone.
 

Have It Your Way!
 
Some have wondered about the necessity for “the Brights” to have a separate Kiva team when an “atheists” option is already available. A reasonable question because, as described, the “atheists” Kiva team actually welcomes agnostics, skeptics, freethinkers, secular humanists, and the non-religious as well.
 
Actually, most atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and freethinkers - if they have a naturalistic outlook overall - may be “brights without knowing it.” Still, most simply prefer to act with regard to their position negating religion than to identify as Brights.
 
It is useful to recall, however, that the societal description needs to fit the individual, and there are “brights of many more stripes” than commonly come to mind. The “atheist team” label is not well suited to those Brights who maintain a social or cultural connection with a religion/religious community despite their not attributing any supernatural aspects to the rituals, scriptures, or traditions. They prefer to give or loan under the umbrella of “a naturalistic worldview.”
 
More importantly, people may self-identify as they choose. Some Brights relish the opportunity to step away from being constantly defined by the framework of religion. They like the idea of taking actions under a different framework altogether, as Brights.
 

Evolution Boosters Take Note
 
Thanks to all Brights who have expressed interest and/or made suggestions regarding the “evolution poster for schools” project. BC has forwarded your recommendations for modifying the pictorial to the developers and some changes have already been made. The sample image shown on the website <http://www.the-brights.net/images/earthandlifeposter.jpg> will be further updated after some additional alterations. At that point, we will begin seeking Brights support in printing a nice batch of posters!
 
Please notice! -- We have had to explain many[!] times: The nature of this project requires that this superb teaching resource be provided without profit and only to high school science teachers who commit to using the poster in their classrooms.
 
Funds to print and disseminate posters will have to come from donations by Brights who want to facilitate teaching of evolution in schools. We will have to see how generous Brights can be for this worthy purpose. We would like to proceed with the largest printing that Brights in the constituency can muster, reducing the “per poster cost” as low as possible. There will be a call for funds at a future date.
 

Evolution Wall Poster - Ongoing Reviews and Revisions
 
At this point (late November), the pictorial has undergone a brief review by the National (USA) Center for Science Education [NCSE] and the National (USA) Evolutionary Synthesis Center [NESCent], and some additional changes have been made.
 
As reported in the last Bulletin, we received funding such that 50 copies of the revised poster could be printed and distributed to active classroom teachers attending the annual convention of the National (USA) Association of Biology Teachers. These 50 NABT teachers have committed to scrutinize the poster, use it during this school year in their teaching, and report back. We appreciate your patience.
 

Eye on the Cause
 
It is important for Brights not to leave fields of civic endeavor to supers. Rather, we need get involved and stay involved -- to openly identify as persons who” have a naturalistic outlook” and to actively pursue constructive civil discourse about matters of civic interest. One can then begin to engage in collaborative endeavors to address issues that are of shared concern.
 
From Ernesto (Florida, USA): “I recently registered as a Bright and wrote this acrostic poem to celebrate our great cause:
 
Brothers and sisters of the world who share
Reason and science as a common goal,
Inspiration and passion for the natural world,
Great appreciation for life on this Earth.
Humans we are, and proud to be Brights.
To Supers we say: "we respect you all.
So, respect us back, which is only right!"

I'd love for it to be circulated among fellow Brights, but I don't know how.  Any ideas or help?”
 
From BC: “Glad to pass along an acrostic that mentions the civic equality angle of this movement. The Brights’ endeavor hopes more Brights will seriously contemplate the concept of civic pluralism with its notion of being considerate of fellow citizens and expecting the same in return. Respecting an individual as a fellow citizen is quite different from according either truth or merit to his/her ultimate beliefs.
 

Morality Project Faces Delay
 
Ruban, leader of the Area C project, reports that he had to close his office operations in Indonesia in October due to the ash from the volcano. A new start date for the 6-month endeavor will soon be forthcoming. Apologies go to all the participant volunteers, but this postponement was unavoidable (however Ruban must wish it to have been so!)
 

Registration Inbox
 
Barbara (California, USA): “This seems like a happy, hopeful organization. That may be more useful than some more angry movements. Good job!”
 
Seraphim (Australia): “I just wanted to say that I think this is an excellent endeavor and a wonderful initiative. Here is to naturalistic worldview and belief in science.”
 
Hugo (Portugal): “I'm happy to hear about this movement since I'm 12 years old that I think like a bright.”
 
Matthew (Oregon, USA): “Thank you for providing organization for a school of thought that I can be proud to be a part of.”
 
Silvia (BC, Canada): “This website will give me a place to breathe in a bit of sanity.”
 
Jake (Alabama, USA): “I think this is one of the best ideas I have heard of in a very long time. It's exhilarating to find that there are so many like myself who want to promote a positive view of Brights!”
 

From the Brights’ Discussion Forums
 
Several items caught the Forum Liaison's eye this month. 

Long-time Member and legal eagle "Jonr" alerts us to a ballot initiative in
California, USA, which aims to create special, constitutional protection for Biblical speech and public evangelism.  Read more in the Topic "Free Exercise of Religion".

New registrant "Walter C.D." recounts how he found the Brights after hearing of the movement on Portuguese radio in his Introductory Topic.  Quite nice to be reminded of the global reach of the Brights!

And what's with all the God talk, anyway?  The Brights movement advocates getting out of the religion ball-game and focusing on civics, but "Sabunim5Dan" wonders whether conversations about religious belief are really a pointless diversion for Brights in his Topic "The God Obsession", found at this link, where several opinions are expressed:

What's your opinion?  Drop by the Forumsregister, and share!  All are welcome.  See you there!
 

A Bright Idea (UK)
 
This message is from the UK Brights Coordinator: “I don't know about yours, but in our household we try not to leave lights on unnecessarily; first so as to reduce our carbon footprint and secondly so as not to waste money. But what this means at this time of year is that one is constantly feeling for the light switches.
 
 
Given their "illuminating" qualities I'd even consider, if I could be assured of sufficient demand, getting them over-printed with the Brights motif and URL.  Either in blue so that the emblem was visible during the day and again at night, or in a background-matching colour so that it only became visible at night!  What would you do with them?  Let me know at uk@the-brights.net.
 

Making a Positive Force
 
One of the most important principles of the Brights movement is Principle 8.
 
Some people tend to “get it" right away, as is indicated in these registration remarks
 
Jasmin (California, USA): “Thanks, my time has come to include myself and join with like-minded individuals to represent this minority with hopes of being more in the public eye as a positive force for our world and communities.”
 
Richard (Ireland): “It is gratifying to be able to associate with something that does not have negative connotations. A non-believer in gods and supernatural, you find yourself all too often defined by what you are not.”
 
BC: Indeed. You simply hold a naturalistic worldview, so beware of continuing to define yourself as others would define you - by negation (of their beliefs). So, take time to contemplate and be able to convey to others what you DO believe in. (It’s really up to us to begin to define ourselves differently and in as positive a fashion as we can muster.)
 

Brights Wanting to Contact
 
So many registering Brights say, “I am so alone. No one else around here has a naturalistic outlook.” That’s often quite at odds with the real situation. In fact, The Brights’ Net can often inform a new registrant that many other Brights have registered from the general area. Occasionally, BC can help Brights to connect with one another. At the present time, though, the service is limited in scope. It depends both on the interest and invitation of the Bright who wants others to contact him/her, and on the availability of a US or Canadian zip code. (There is some help also in the largest cities around the world).
 
Nigel want to know if there are any Brights near him in Worcester UK. In this case, Brights Central is not able to tell him because the SalsaLabs communications system we use does not function for his region. BC is able to accommodate Nigel’s desire only with a mention here in a Bulletin and, unlike most Brights, he has informed BC in writing that he is indeed willing to broadcast his email address: nigetillett@hotmail.co.uk
 

New Books by Brights
 
 
 

Yikes! - Reckless Supernatural Thinking
 
From James (Michigan, USA): “As a surgeon I know supernatural thinking deeply affects our medical decisions and practice. Doctors more often than not make decisions based on belief and then actually delude themselves about the consequences, even training others to follow suit.”
 

Support Is Worth a Nod
 
This month we’d like to give mention and gratitude to those Brights who have subscribed through PayPal or another outlet to send a small monthly donation to support the Brights’ endeavor. Special mention goes to Max, who has kept up a US$10 subscription longer than any other participant in the movement. Thank you, Max! What a wonderful measure of steady support.
 

The “Just One Book - Name It!” Request Falls Short
 
We appreciate those who sent in a book title they favored for youngsters to learn some “critical thinking skills.” (A couple of authors suggested their own writing.) We didn’t get many new ideas, though, so we’ll renew the request before considering the recommendations we have received. So, if you missed out on last month’s call to propose the absolute best book you know of to spark children’s curiosity, or build habits of inquiry and skepticism (and sustain them, too!), please email the title/author to the-brights@the-brights.net . Put ONE BOOK in upper case in your subject line. Please note that we are asking for children’s (age-appropriate) material.
 

Brights Central Update
 
The Move: A new office location for the international hub of communications and activity has been found. The physical move took place on Nov. 27 and unpacking and reconnecting has begun! As expected, the new place is not the superb bargain we had previously (a great view at below-market rates and all utilities paid), but here’s hoping we can at least manage the change to “the real world.”
 
The Mend: Brights co-founder Paul Geisert has been making a speedy recovery from his spill. The broken pelvis is mending nicely. Thanks to all you well-wishers!
 
The Mention: Thanksgiving, an American holiday, shouldn’t pass without those of us at BC (Mynga, Paul, Mike, Kelly, Carolyn) expressing gratitude to all Brights who are taking some sort of volunteer action aligned with vision, aims, and principles of the overall Brights movement. Special mention goes to the staff of the Brights international forum and to volunteers and leaders of specific activities. You know who you are!!

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