The Brights' Bulletin


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BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JULY 2016 


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Acting as Brights, Together and Apart

“Turning up the brightness” denotes taking actions that help to bolster civic acknowledgement of the naturalistic outlook, in which supernatural or mystical agency is given no credence.

The Brights’ Net is a nonprofit educational organization supporting a constituency of individuals, the Brights.  

As we are acting individually, we become something of a Fresnel lens for an overall endeavor. We are elevating recognition of the civic legitimacy of a naturalistic outlook.

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Shine Your Bright

Many Brights, upon registering into this online constituency, say this:

I’m not much of a joiner, but I like this initiative and so I’m registering anyway.

It seems our online constituency of Brights quite resembles “a joining together of non-joiners.”

For example:  Upon registering just this week, Charlie (in Bath, UK) remarked as follows:

Love what you're trying to do.

Of course, now that he is a registered Bright, what we (at Brights Central) are trying to do is also what Charlie himself can be trying to do.

The tagline above – selected by Brights themselves - says it clearly:  Brights want to illuminate and elevate the naturalistic worldview.

So, Charlie, welcome!  Now you can start taking part
(That goes for everyone!)

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Radiating That Fuller Spectrum

Conversations and dialogues too often get stuck in the language of religion. When that is the context, our naturalistic worldview takes on a slim "no God" focus, and we ourselves acquire "a pinched identity." Taking on too slender a conception of ourselves feeds into the dominant perceptions and biases that, in turn, produce the very limitations that constrain our opportunities and actions as citizens.

Brights needn’t define ourselves so narrowly. There’s more to focus on than just the concept of deity belief. Projecting a naturalistic worldview means showing a fuller range of who we really are as regards the supernatural and mystical. There are numerous ways to carry forward with broader identities,

We can present ourselves in public contexts such as politics, commerce, education and service. When we do this, we help to advance the civic situation of those who have a naturalistic worldview. Moving out of religion can better carry us into civics. Civics is a different ballgame – a separate framework with different attributes. In democratic societies, Brights can plead the case of civic pluralism and press for civic equality and participation of all citizens. It's a lot like being bilingual rather than speaking just the one familiar language.

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Full Spectrum

Lyz Lydell, the executive director of the 2016 Reason Rally last month, reminds everyone who attended (or didn’t) that that the photo site is available to peruse. Photos cover all four days of the amazing “Speak Up for Reason” event, and you’ll find lots of wonderful images there.

If you order prints, all proceeds go to support the Reason Rally Coalition, a 501(c)(3) coalition that organized the secular gathering in Washington, DC. There’s also a Reason Rally Store selling an event DVD along with apparel merchandise at 25% off (remaining stock limited).

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Your Worldview as Your Lens

Have you taken a “long deep look” at your “worldview free of supernatural and mystical elements” (definition of a bright)?  In what sense does it govern your political priorities and environmental behaviors?

Davis (Brights Central’s liaison to the Brights’ International Forums) has pointed BC to a blog entry at ScientificAmerican.com with the title, “Understanding Our Polarized Political Landscape Requires a Long, Deep Look at Our Worldviews.”

The blog item by guest Annick de Witt (June 28) draws on studies in the U.S. and Netherlands of “four worldviews” (the term considered broadly). With inclusion of names like “Trump” and “Sanders” and “Clinton” and terms like “Brexit” appearing, the piece clearly brings in matters of current public interest.  Here’s how the blog post starts off.  If this, or its title, entices, you can choose to consider it further…

Historians often look at society with the aim of seeing larger, overarching patterns in how humans tend to relate to the world, and how their understanding of reality changes throughout time. These worldviews are the lenses through which people see and filter reality, shaping our world in many seen and unseen ways. Worldviews inform both individual choices as well as our group identities, and they tend to underlie our disagreements and add emotional spice to our societal debates. Therefore, if we want to fathom the unexpected (and in many ways unprecedented) support that candidates like Trump and Sanders have garnered, and understand the intense polarization that characterizes our contemporary political landscape, we better take a long, deep look at what is happening with our worldviews.

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Doing Any Shopping Online?

If you shop online, please don’t forget that you have at hand one of the very best ways to back this constituency at no cost to you.

Apparel. Books. Furniture. Cosmetics. Sundries. Plants. You name it!
Whatever you buy online, tie the shopping that you do to The Brights’ Net. When you do that, then each purchase you make spurs a small donation to the Brights at no extra cost to the buyer.

iGive is one way you can shop online and send a bit of support to the Brights. You first install an iGive.com link on your toolbar and designate The Brights’ Net as charity recipient. Then, you just start your shopping via that site. You can reach over a thousand different stores! To name a few “B”s— Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & and Beyond, Bloomingdales, Brookstone, Burpee). A small percentage (amount varies by merchant) will come this direction.

Amazon is another route, and an especially generous one. But you must start each of your shopping sessions at the Brights' website. It won’t cost you anything at all, and you will be sending 6-7% of your purchase amount to The Brights’ Network. (Tell your online shopping friends, too.)

eBay also has a “Giving Works” option. Easiest if you bookmark your chosen routes. Or, you can effortlessly reach any of these financial support pathways from the home page (midway down, right column).

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Writing Science / Zapping Pseudoscience

Science well understood is one of the best means for arousing a natural outlook. And, in the face of societies in which hokum abounds, it’s a grand tool for undermining nonsense in its many forms.

Whatever our personal setting or situation may be, it’s especially important that each of us, as Brights, contribute somehow to efforts to protect and advance authentic science education.

We especially need to try to counter pseudoscience whenever it rears its ugly head.  (A citizen’s credulity can be weakened with appropriate exposure and comprehensible explanation.)

If you are a writer, that’s something you can do.  “Advice for Science Writers” is a cautionary posting but one that you might want to consider, as its focus is on writing more effectively.

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Participating Magnifies Impact

Evolutionary change of life on earth can be such a rousing subject! The subject matter, if understood, may well lead to one’s developing a naturalistic view of life.

However, the subject presents distinct educational challenges. Both conceptual complexity and strong cultural challenges (especially from creationists) make for lots of civilian confusion. Genuine understanding of evolutionary change among the citizenry appears to be all too rare.

The Brights’ Network’s project to elevate evolutionary understanding in high school science classrooms offers Brights a handy channel to diminish confusion and help fortify future citizens’ grasp of science and evolutionary change. You can participate by donating to the project, and you will have impact on future citizens

The unique wall posters that you help us supply (5 ½ feet wide) will go only to qualified teachers who must apply and be validated for teaching subject and level. Each one commits to integrate into their teaching about evolution the unique information (showing connections not available elsewhere). The more Brights who participate, the greater the effect. Please support this project!

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International Forums Report

This month the Forums introduce whimsical coverage of the Neural Correlate Society’s annual winners in an optical illusion contest. Take a motion-sickness pill (according to the label and with competent medical advice, of course!) and drop by for the link and to remark upon what it all means.

In other news, there is hotly debated new content on the issue of climate change in the Topic “Climate Milestone.” One thing is sure: the two main contenders have staked their claims; come and help assess the merits of the case.

Anyone can read the Forums; registration is easy and confidential.  Come on by and give us your two cents.

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Brainy Explorations

Graphic credit Johns Hopkins

Now that researchers have at hand increasingly sophisticated technology with which to investigate (e.g., functional MRI), could it be that their brain studies are starting to uncover “free will” in the brain?

We know that philosophers and scientists have been long been enticed by that subject. If you are also interested, you might want to watch for the report of a recent study soon to be published in the journal, Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics (October).

Graphic credit Johns Hopkins

In their study, “Tracking the Will to Attend,” the John Hopkins researchers have taken a look at regions of the brain that tie to some “freely chosen motor movements” (shifting at will the position of one’s focus of attention) and suspect they may be honing in on core components of a brain network underlying the “will” to attend.  An overview of the study (with video provided by Johns Hopkins) is available online at MedicalXpress.

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Latest in the Brights Blog

http://blog.the-brights.net/about/

In “A Science-minded Citizen”we find Adam Manning (U.K.) taking a turn at probing the solar system – going beyond what he already knows about it.

As Adam reports his endeavour:  “An interesting thought experiment is to imagine the track or trail of the planets as they circle the Sun whilst the Sun moves ever onward. Taking up this challenge, I decided to try to model this on my computer with a 3-D graphic package.

See more at: http://blog.the-brights.net/2016/06/27/the-solar-system-in-motion/


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