The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #147 (latest issue)
June 30, 2015

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JULY 2015 


Photo credit: Jason Vandehey, Dreamstime.com

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Next Up for Morality Project

Ruban Bala has been guiding the teamwork of the “Reality about Morality” Project, which has had varied participants over time.  The most recent team pulled together project strands to produce the free web portal on the subject. The portal offers, in several languages, an objective starting point for anyone wishing to understand human morality as the product of evolutionary processes.

Ruban now reports readiness proceed with other educational aspects outlined on the website. If you are interested and have the time to commit (~15 hours a month), please consider applying to join the next Task Team to begin addressing “Area D” of the Project. Note: A volunteer should be in agreement with the project outcomes so far (Areas A – C), so that everyone can be moving forward into consideration of how to reach varied target audiences with presentation and/or instructional materials.

Especially invited to apply to join this team are persons who have experience collaborating on instructional design, materials development or mass communications. Project members will communicate by Skype or Google Hangouts.  Express your interest by emailing the-brights@the-brights.net with AREA D in upper case letters in the subject line.

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Persian Proofing / Hebrew Tweaking

Thanks to Hamed and Parvin for offering to review the Persian language draft of the human morality portal. We are hoping to have that translation available soon so that the link can be conveyed by Brights to a range of Farsi websites.

The Hebrew version of the portal needs some more fine-tuning. If you are versed in both Hebrew and English and can produce text in the language at your computer, please volunteer to help us make some small revisions and corrections. Email the-brights@the-brights.net with HEBREW in your subject line.

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Got Social Media Focus?

Felicia at Brights Central is inclined toward involving BC more with social media, especially across some themes and topics generally pertinent to Brights.  So, she invites you, as follows…

1) Join us on Facebook, Twitter & Google+ as we explore the genius and torment of Charles Darwin and how his scientific revolution spawned international debate that continues to this day. 

Find us online: Explore, Participate, Engage and Support!

2) Be sure to keep an eye on our webpage for future “evolutionary changes” in our Evolution Poster Project.  We have already served over 198 thousand students, enhancing their understanding of the natural story of life on earth. I am excited to see how this project will evolve and hope that you will be a partner in that process.

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Coffee or Tea for the Brights?

Most Bulletin readers know that it’s easy to support the Brights (for free!) by using the Brights’ website to start any session of shopping online at Amazon. (Supporters simply bookmark this link, or use the home page, right column.)  Of course, not everyone shops online. (Some Brights have their reasons for refusing to buy anything from that company.) So, here’s an alternative way to lend a hand to our efforts. It’s almost-as-easy, and it comes with minimal cost.

Sign up for the very smallest ongoing monthly donation available from Paypal, JustGive, or Network for Good

For many Brights, the recurring amount equates to less than what they may be spending on coffee or tea during a week.  PayPal allows a $5 minimum per month (the others $10 recurring), but the key is how many Brights choose to do it. If many, then the total will play a large role in how fast we can move forward on plans to digitally upgrade the poster project with accessory online resources and produce a unique web portal for science educators! 

If you like that idea, sign up to send donation our way each month. If lots of Brights would choose this support method, we could organize this project enhancement much more rapidly. All new signups during July will be earmarked to the Evolution project.

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Will Politicians Dare Discuss Knowledge? (USA)

With the 2016 presidential race already in motion, once again some are calling for a debate focused on science to be part of the process.  In a Ted-x talk, ScienceDebate.org co-founder, Shawn Otto, sets forth a rationale. He contrasts the willingness of previous candidates to engage with questioners about beliefs, but not about knowledge. Whereas many say there “just isn’t the interest,” sciencedebate.org’s polling indicates otherwise.

The presentation cites an array of emerging problems driven by science or technology, all of them influencing our lives and the future of the planet, none of them solved.  But few candidates want to step forward to debate issues that are, and will be, influencing so many aspects of people’s lives. Individual citizens in varied capacities can sign a call for public debates on science.

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Blasphemy Now Legal (Iceland)

Not only are elves safe in Iceland, so now is blasphemy. 

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, and in the name of freedom of expression, Iceland’s parliament has voted to decriminalize blasphemy, which had previously brought fines (or jailing up to three months) to anyone "who publicly mocks or dishonors the doctrine or worship of a legal religious group, in this country."

The Lutheran Church of Iceland, to which almost 75 percent of Icelanders belong, has supported the change.

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At the International Forums

The American State of Texas will soon allow students to carry registered firearms on campus.  This is controversially intended to reduce on-campus crime by acting as a deterrent.  As you might imagine, there’s been some counter-argument that this is a silly idea.  What do you think?  Are gun controls instituted by people who wouldn’t shoot each other anyway, or do restrictions on gun ownership really influence the crime rate?  Weigh in here.

On a lighter note, it seems that Google’s image recognition algorithms “dream.” At least, insofar as they can find image-related content in noisy data sets, much as human brains do.  If nothing else, the resulting, surrealistic output is quite interesting to look at, whether or not one is interested in the scientific and philosophical implications of machine code duplicating human behavior yet again.

Participation requires a quick and confidential registration. See you around!

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Two Brights Appreciated

A Catholic columnist, writing about “New Atheism,” admits to “ricochet(ing) wildly between blissful moments of faith and complete and utter doubt” and is left in a funk following a presentation by two notable Brights, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins.

“I found the whole experience unnerving. I’d hoped both men would be humorless, strident, militant, even obnoxious. Then I could go home feeling confident in my faith. Instead they were funny, charming, and quite likable. I went home deflated.”

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Two Brights’ Appreciation

From Chris, who joined the Brights after incarceration in South Carolina:

“I want to thank you for publishing A Little Brightness.  Your newsletter is really important to me.  I learn something new and interesting in every issue, and it helps me feel connected with other Brights.”

From Mynga, at Brights Central:  I’d like to once again thank Kelly (here at BC) and Joel (volunteering in Texas) for their combined efforts on producing ALB.  This long-lasting project shares aspects of the naturalistic worldview with prisoners in twenty-two states, and for recipients housed in American prisons, the little bi-monthly newsletter is something of “a candle in the dark.” Thanks must go also to Brights themselves, without whose donations we could not continue this service.


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