The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #96
April 30, 2011

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- MAY 2011 


Morality Project Team
 
From Ruban, Project Director: “Despite members being located in several time zones, our Morality Project AREA C Executive Team (consisting of PR and marketing professionals, artists, instructional designers and social scientists) has made steady progress this month. We've decided to pilot-test material with two specific audiences: the global English-speaking lay public and university/college students. We are currently discussing how we might test various memes and media channels, such as viral images, YouTube videos, press releases and print media."
 

Evolution Wall Poster Initiative (USA)
 
Requests are starting to come in to Brights Central from science teachers who want to use a free poster (supplied by the Brights) as a tool to teach about evolution in their curriculum. When an American high school science teacher applies for the free evolution poster, BC ships it along with a handout sheet containing several classroom activity ideas.
 
Interestingly, the average teaching load reported by requesters so far is 147 students per day. This means that our prior estimate was definitely not an overstatement! (BC had predicted exposure to the poster of at least 100 students a day, or a total of 40,000 youngsters overall for the set of printed posters.)
 
Please do tell others about the Brights’ poster project. The announcement notice is prominent on the home page, so share the page by any of the social media! (Brights and supers alike can inform teachers of the availability of the free posters.) Links to poster viewing and/or requesting a poster and/or sponsoring of the project are supplied here.
 

Gift Cards – A New Way to Support Brights’ Endeavor
 
Thanks to a suggestion from Minna, a Bright in New York (USA), PlasticJungle.com (the gift card exchange) now includes The Brights’ Net in its nonprofit listing. Anyone who has received a gift card now has the option to turn it in for cash (or PayPal) and, when they do so, to assign a portion (or even all) of the cash-in value to the-brights.net.
 
Besides displaying the Brights logo, Plastic Jungle’s nonprofit directory describes this endeavor as follows:
“The Brights are individuals who support a civic vision. They want to educate society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of persons who have a naturalistic worldview…The Brights' organization seeks public recognition that persons who hold such a worldview can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance. Brights engage in individual and collaborative actions to support this egalitarian vision.”
 

Latest from the Brights’ Forums
 
The Forum's informal Book Club is reviving for a discussion of The Little Blue Reasoning Book: 50 Powerful Principles for Clear and Effective Thinking, by Brandon Royal.  We hope to begin "on or about" May 1, or as soon as sufficiently many of us have had time to get through the book.  This link will take you to the point where the book club's Topic turns to this discussion.  The electronic version of the book is available for just US$6.99--and don't forget that if you purchase the book through the Amazon link at the website (US and UK venues available), 7% of your purchase price supports the Brights Network--at no cost to you!
 
The Forum is also a comfortable venue for discussion of anything of interest to brights, from that which inspires us in the natural world to political actions that touch upon our civil rights.  Why not register at the Forum and make yourself heard?  We'll be happy to see you there.
 

Brights’ Toolbox Has a Problem?
 
From Juan in Azcapotzalco, Mexico:
 
“I just read and enjoyed some answers for ‘How to answer children - where did we come from.’ But even when I loved the different ideas fellow Brights use to answer, I don't feel comfortable reading some answers with the word God, ‘without God’, ‘not by someone called God’.
 
“I think bringing ‘God’ to the table is using the frame of thought created and tuned by believers. I think the Toolbox should contain only ‘affirmations’ based on knowledge, and not ‘denials’ of others’ frames of thought or belief.”
 

Your Next Toolbox Topic?
 
In the Brights’ Toolbox on the website, Brights share constructive ideas for how persons who have a naturalistic worldview can best interact with fellow citizens. Already we’ve dealt with how Brights might handle these items:
* Explaining how one can be moral
* Confronting personal mortality
* Answering a child’s question: “Where do we come from?”
* Responding to religious remarks like “God bless you” or “I’ll pray for you”
If you haven’t explored the Toolbox yet, check it out!
 
BC is ready to add another item to the Toolbox.
 
A couple of ideas are already in the hopper. However, the issue is open for your suggestions for any that might perhaps be of more immediate interest. If you have a suggestion or proposal, please email to the-brights@the-brights.net with “TOOBOX IDEA” in your subject line. Thanks!
 

Nothing Supernatural Here (No Mystery Either)
 
We should be giving more than occasional mention to the merchandise page on the website. Why? Because last month’s Bulletin, in which we pointed out the availability of window decals, spurred quite a bit of activity for Brights’ Shopkeeper, Diane. (She shipped more orders for static clings than she has had in quite a while!)
 
The same page also offers lapel pins, cloth patches, and a link to the Brights Shop at Café Press, which has an array of items, such as mugs, magnets, and stickers along with T-shirts, hats, hoodies and other apparel. Most items show the logo and the website URL, and some have slogans, such as “100% Natural Ingredients” or “Supers & Brights: One Humanity; One World”.
 
But, the decals are perhaps the easiest and least expensive way to give visible notice (on your car’s side window, for example) that you are a participant in the Brights movement. See the image and, if you like it, buy a single cling or a cluster of them
 

BCC Forming in Victoria (Australia)
 
This new Brights community cluster is for people interested in activism. The group aims to actively participate in Australian civic life so as to elevate and illuminate the naturalistic world view, illustrating the belief that morality does not have a supernatural foundation, but rather stems from the cognitive and emotional mechanisms acquired through evolution. The cluster welcomes individuals who want to promote public awareness and acceptance of a naturalistic world view via active civic participation. If interested, contact Roger at:
rogersteppe@gmail.com
 

New BCC in Lima (Peru)
 
Juan reports that a small group of Brights in Lima has already held a couple of informal meetings to get acquainted and to exchange ideas and would welcome other Brights living in Perú that might like to join them. So, if you live in Lima and would like to meet them, contact Juan at:
jmbakula1944@hotmail.com
 

Surmounting an Inclination
 
Brian (Virginia, USA): “Not really a joiner, but I feel like I'm surrounded by institutionalized insanity. I'm hoping the collective intelligence of this organization might trend higher than the sum of its members. God, I hope so.  :)”
 
Mya (Essex, UK): “Do I need a group to feel I belong? No. Do I appreciate the feeling of commonality amongst other like minded people? Yes.”
 
Bill (California, USA): “I am not a joiner but this is important.”
 

Enthusiastic Brights as Authors
 
Public supporters of the Brights movement include several authors whom Brights would find well worth reading. If you set out to acquire a book by Dennett, Grayling, Blackmore, Dawkins, or Mehta, for example, consider that you can simultaneously support The Brights’ Net by starting your shopping session through the Amazon link on the Brights' website. Purchase through our link, and you generate a 7 percent return via the Amazon Affiliates account. Any items are eligible, not just books. And it is at no extra cost to you, either!
 
Many Brights want to support their independent booksellers, and that is definitely a worthy value. Still, IF choosing to make purchases from the Amazon company, appreciation goes to all who remember that the Brights' links exist. Last month, such purchases brought UK Brights GBP90.69 and Brights Central $617. Both added support to the activities at the two central hubs.
 

April Delights One Enthusiastic Bright
 
This month was nice to renowned British philosopher, author, broadcaster and humanist Anthony Grayling. On his US book tour to promote the American version of his latest book, Grayling got a friendly reception in many quarters. He also became the first academic philosopher in decades to be appointed president of the British Humanist Association (BHA). He will serve a two-year term as the Association’s eleventh president. This means that an updating of Grayling's entry as an Enthusiastic Bright is definitely due!
 

Secular–A Dirty Word?
 
An Interesting Side Note: Dr. Grayling had named his recent work “The Good Book” because he intended it as a secular alternative to traditional biblical scripture. However, when an American version was produced, the book underwent a subtitle change. Originally termed “A Secular Bible” in the UK, it became “A Humanist Bible” across the Atlantic. According to the professor, his American publisher thought that the term “secular” just would not go over well in the USA!
 

SIG 3: Tennessee Brights Alert
 
This month a regional email blast from Brights Central went to Brights in Tennessee, USA, where the Tennessee Senate’s Education Committee was undertaking consideration of a bill affecting science teaching. The “BrightenOp” provided pertinent links to the legislative decision makers along with examples of arguments pro and con on the bill. It invited recipients as follows: “Whatever you may think on the matter, sending your views along to the committee in a constructive way of your own would doubtless be of use in the public discussion.”
 

Registration In-Box
 
Sara (New Mexico, USA): “I think this is a fine idea and I will try to spread the meme.”
 
Alexander (Dorset, UK): “I am delighted to have found the brights. I hope that more people who have a naturalistic worldview discover this community.”
 
Joseph (Texas, USA): “Just the type of people I was looking for.”
 
Glen (Colorado, USA): “Smooth like honey; heavy with mood.”
 
Michael (Canada): “Could it be that I've found my community?”
 
Charles (Pennsylvania, USA): “The Brights is everything I relate to. I will definitely spread the Brights movement!”
 

Camp Quest for Youngsters
 
Camp Quest is all about fun, friends, and freethought for kids ages 8-17! Children from atheist, Bright, agnostic, humanist, and other freethinking families can look forward to an enjoyable summer experience. Campers can explore their developing worldviews through interactive educational activities focused on science, critical thinking, and philosophy. Camp Quest is also about traditional summer camp fun including swimming, crafts, campfires, and games.
 
There are ten Camp Quest locations across North America, and five affiliated programs in Europe running sessions in 2011. Also this year, younger children can attend new “family camp” programs along with their parents. More information, along with dates and locations, is at www.campquest.org.
 

Discovering a New Framework
 
Cristiano (Brazil): “I've always been a bright but never knew it. It is good to be able to become a Bright, and not having to define myself just referring to religion.”
 

Books by Brights
 
Faith Is Not Enough by Stephen Horne and Richard Robertson
Among the matters of interest to the authors is how indoctrination of children and adults into irrational ideas can lead to gross intolerance of other viewpoints. They suggest various ways of becoming active in promoting rational thought.
 
You can find lots more books of interest in the Books By Brights section of the website.
 

Nonreligious (Useful in a CIVIC Sense?)
 
In the UK, the British Humanist Association asked more individuals to check “No religion” on their 2011 census form. This campaign generated a lot of interest and drew support from many Brights.
 
The BHA effort spurred adults who only loosely identify with the religion of their upbringing to more carefully consider the civic implications of continuing to maintain that religious identity. According to the BHA, if individuals mark a religion on the census only out of habit, the data produced by the census (and used by local and national government) is misleading. Such information would be interpreted as if it indicates a greater degree of religious belief and belonging than is the reality. Government would use the census data to justify maintaining faith schools, and religious groups would lobby for their own institutions, with the consequence that society would be even more divided.
 
However any individuals might have finally chosen to act in the long run, the BHA campaign did bring a serious issue to the forefront, making clear to many citizens that they should give serious and thoughtful consideration to how they describe themselves.
 

Nonbeliever (RELIGIOUS Terminology that Denigrates?)
 
Press and media commonly characterize people who have a naturalistic worldview as “nonbelievers.” Although many Brights do not mind the term and may even use the descriptor for themselves, others who have a naturalistic worldview do mind. In fact, they mind very much.
 
Brights who ground their thinking in the broad arenas of empiricism, rationality, scientific method, critical thinking, etc. see the widespread use of this term “nonbeliever” as a tool of the powerful. It is reflecting the predominance and privilege of religion in society. When a Bright is typecast merely as a “nonbeliever,” the person is simultaneously ensconced in a religion-based structure that diminishes their civic standing.
 
Having thought broadly and deeply about an array of phenomena and reached their positions after considering a breadth of supernatural (e.g., such entities as ghosts, paranormal), many Brights see the term “nonbeliever” as deleterious. There is a problem in the civic sense when a full-scale broad spectrum of considerations is reduced to a single conclusion about a single topic (whether or not a deity exists).
 

Pro? or Con?
 
An interesting blog piece by a journalist who has chided both the British Humanist Association campaign and the “nonbeliever” concept will no doubt stir many Brights one way or the other.
 
Brights Central would like to receive your response to the blogger’s positions. Email to the-brights@the-brights.net and put PRO/CON in upper case letters in your subject line.

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