The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #138 (latest issue)
September 30, 2014

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- OCTOBER 2014 


Graphics credit:  Iliya Golubev (BrightsRussia)

Starlight to pierce darkness.
Science to overwhelm superstition. 
And, in the private sphere of the mind,
reason and evidence to prevail.  

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Mind Those Positives!

Personally, the naturalistic worldview offers us an uplifting and affirmative way to live life. It is affirmative. Unfortunately, however, persons who are living life supernatural-free tend to be ensnared in an oppositional frame. Due to prevalent religion, we are routinely appraised in those terms.

Fellow citizens define us narrowly, in contrast to theistic or believing persons. We are seen as "nonbelievers", and as lacking. The social prominence and privileging of unfounded supernaturalism drives modern media toward the "godless" characterization.

Culturally boxed in by such negation, it is a challenge for brights to carve out any broader conceptual territory. The "space" seems already owned by supers, and the language available is limited. 

But social surroundings do not act alone to frame us adversely.  We ourselves may fail to see beyond those descriptors, even though all they convey about us is a disagreement. We too view our outlook in narrow terms. Consequently, we gain more experience in handling argument than in expressing our interpretation of the world affirmatively.

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)


What is so great about living life supernatural-free? Can we become more adept at propelling the positives? It takes some focusing on that aspect. So, what works for you?  Email any suggestions for others' possible benefit to the-brights@the-brights.net with POSITIVE in upper case letters in your subject line.

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A Notable Plaudit!

Brights have reason to continue telling others about the Brights’ new web segment, “Reality about Morality” and, while at it, bragging on its explanation and the supportive peer-reviewed studies that provide considerable empirical weight to the information.

We've had some admiration come in from high places. For example: Professor Curry, at Oxford, a key researcher in the field of cognitive and evolutionary anthropology, has written as follows:

"[N]ow that I've had a chance to look through the site properly, I just wanted to say "Well done!" to you and your team for putting together such a fantastic resource. I will be sure to send all my students to your site (and I look forward to catching up on all the literature that I was unaware of)."

Congratulations go to Ruban (in Indonesia) who led the volunteer team and handled the research compilation that has prompted Dr. Curry to “catch up.”  ;-)

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#realityaboutmorality

To educate? To enlighten? How about this: To “set ‘em straight”?

The UK Brights’ Twitter site offered different varied approaches to retweeting the infographic and its supplementary material. Which wording best expresses your own motives for alerting acquaintances to the infographic’s information?

• Looking for a natural explanation for the existence of morality? Look no further.

• You thought morality was exclusive to humans? Well you were wrong, and this explains why.

• If you think morality is exclusive to humans you are wrong and this infographic explains why. 

• Are morality and evolution related? Yes, and this infographic explains how

• See how leading scientists and thinkers have contributed to an explanation of how morality and evolution are linked.

• Is religion a prerequisite for morality?  No, and this explains why not.

• Being slighted as people imply that religion-free can't be moral? This shows them to be wrong.

All the above are directly available for easy retweeting at: https://twitter.com/UKBrights

Choose one that suits you, or invent your own. But, please get the infographic into your social networks!

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Shower It! 

Now that we have a great product, let's be sure to get the most from the endeavor. One way to educate the broader public about human morality involves getting the media to shower some attention on it. Brights can pitch in to garner some PR for the project! 

The infographic along with our web portal will inform about the natural underpinnings of morality, and a press release (or more) will draw interest as well as establish context. 

If you would like to direct funds to Brights Central to obtain commercial PR, please use this link, and we will take it from there!

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Late September’s Timing, Part 1

The best of times; the worst of times.

Talk about a marvelous feeling!  How satisfying was it to us at Brights Central to finally accomplish the launch of the “Reality about Morality” infographic — in 12 languages! But that wasn't all.

Along with the infographic, the project constructed a rather (shall we say it?) fabulous web portal leading to explanatory and supportive material. It is an empirically deep showing that human morality is “built in” to the human condition. 

Thanks to all of you who have already shared the infographic!  If you haven’t done so yet, please do so! Find it at http://the-brights.net/morality.

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Late September’s Timing, Part 2

Just the worst of times, because… of the timing! 

Of all times for the Brights’ website to have “issues” – It could hardly have been worse.  All of a sudden - a long, long, long (must we say it again? – yes!) long lag time for loading any web page whatsoever.

Having to wait a whole minute for a page to load to share an infographic from the site was bad enough. But, to make matters even more acute, the hindrance arose at exactly the time we sent out our Equinox fund appeal. One would really need to want hard to be supportive and generous (or absolutely overflowing with patience)! And we only directly ask for financial support two times a year!   

Bummer! We scrambled as best we could, once the delay was noted. After several strategies failed, we moved our site to a different server in hopes of a cure, and now we are “back in business.” As we share resources with other nonprofits, perhaps some “bad neighbors” caused the delays? However, the actual reason remains a mystery still.

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Post-Equinox: Which Are You?

The Equinox came and went, and this time our Equinox fund appeal proved itself a challenge. We had website technical troubles that came out of nowhere! (We mention the technical barrier and what we did about it farther below.) So, at BC we respond differently here, depending on which paragraph below fits you.

1) Maybe you are one of “the sustainers” who is already making ongoing contributions of small monthly amounts (tax deductible in the U.S.), we will just say now – You have our ongoing gratitude!
2) Maybe you were one of those who responded to the appeal by sending in a one-time donation OR by initiating a new monthly subscription (either 6-months or ongoing). If so, we say not only “Thank you!” but also “Bravo!”  Doing so probably wasn’t easy this time!  But, you overcame the odds!  That is, you faced and surmounted the barriers! 
3) Maybe you have not yet received or have not yet responded or were totally defeated by the website at the time of the Equinox fund appeal. To you we say: It’s not too late!  Having tech troubles simultaneously with the fund request is sure to mean that, without your help, we will be coming up short this time

You can (re-)read the Equinox appeal on the website

http://www.the-brights.net/funding/appeals/sep2014.html

We hope you will donate. 

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October iGive Special

Do you shop online? If so, please notice that iGive.com is offering its annual bonus, which can lead to an extra $5 to The Brights’ Net for each new (to iGive) participant that comes in from a Bright during the month. One must use this Brights’ link.  Lots of familiar stores qualify! 

(Note:  iGIve.com is a portal offering the Brights a commission on any purchase you make at over 1500 online merchants. Perhaps you are already a participant and can tell a friend? Or, perhaps you’re new to the idea and will just now decide to participate. Perfect timing! For general information, and more about the October bonus, check out the Brights’ iGive page.

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Apologies to A Rational Woman for an erroneous link in last month’s bulletin. It failed to point to her discussion of educating youngsters toward “savvy skepticism.” We’re happy to point correctly to her excellent suggestions for parents who wish to nurture skepticism in their offspring.

In her most recent contribution to BloggingBrights.net, A Rational Woman outlines her challenges to the “pro-life” [mis-named] movement.

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Fiction by a Bright

Wondering how and why the world is such a mess?

Nick Sambrook, author of IT, promises an “unambiguous understanding of what is really going on.” 

Decide: Is his virtuality, in fact, our reality?  

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Report from the International Forums

A brief discussion in the Forums, titled "Bright or not", this month revolved around whether beliefs are “supernatural”, what it means to be a Bright, the nature of UFO’s, and other matters.  Perhaps you have questions about beliefs, confidence, or specific oddities?  A question put to the Forum membership usually attracts an interesting response.

Meanwhile, noted philosopher Derek Parfit has wondered what it is exactly that makes a human a human, and concluded that "We Are Not Human Beings". The discussion that follows is slightly arcane, but certainly the material has relevance for ethical conundra at both ends of life — to what or whom should we grant “human” rights if there can be serious disagreement about what, in fact, “human” means?

Participation requires only a brief and confidential registration. Come on by!

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First Reaction to the Morality Infographic

The first statement of appreciation came in to BC from Michael (California) who said simply:

“I love the Morality Info-graphic.”

Of course, as Brights are prone to do, he then followed with a far more extensive discussion:

“I think I can put the info-graphic into a larger context, we can discuss not only what we observe, but why it HAS to be this way! Here's my brief thesis, it needs substantiation, but is quite common sense, so I know it is also true!  (My BA in Anthro may finally be useful!)”

Despite its absence of substantiation (for now), his text will be passed along appropriately to participants in the task team.

A word regarding substantiation: The infographic’s four assertions, have been authenticated to a degree exceeding most all infographics on the Internet.  Reason?  In the cause of open science, the Brights’ portal makes the full-text research studies themselves easily accessible! It’s the nearest thing to a “one stop shop” for researchers and educators alike.

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Arguing for Esperanto

In addition to the spoken languages, the infographic has been translated to Esperanto. Mark, the proponent of this inclusion has worked with others to accomplish the task. He had argued for it as follows:

“Esperanto has a worldwide reach and an active humanist community.  Including Esperanto on your list of languages is a simple way to demonstrate that this is a global, culturally neutral message.”

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Inbox Favorites

As a constituency of individuals with widely varying interests and cultural affiliations, “who is registering” into the constituency of Brights isn’t easily known. But sometimes a registrant will provide a glimpse if the “reasons for enrolling.” We haven’t included this feature lately, but here are a couple of BC favorites,

Kenneth (California, USA):The decision to participate in any form of organization, even one as deliberately loose as the Brights, is one I do not take lightly. That said, the Bright's Principles, particularly the emphasis on the positive characterization of the group, as opposed to a reactionary one, convinces me I want to self-label as a Bright.”

Guillaume (Canada): “I actually discovered the Bright movement because I had the same idea: that atheism clearly had a bad connotation. I frankly admire the elegance and manner in which this incredibly courageous idea was made. I have great hopes for this project and the positive effect on children. I wish I had something like that when I was a kid, a sense of community is so important at such a crucial age. I never felt like a single word could ever describe my non-beliefs, but now: our children's future is Bright.”

A comment: As well-rounded human beings, we need to adequately convey our beliefs, or else be evaluated narrowly by our non-belief alone and the false stereotypes that are held about our morality.

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Brights Merchandise

You'll find this "No Supernatural Ingredients" Tee in The Brights Kiosk (at Zazzle).

Lots more swag and apparel awaits at The Brights' Shop (at Cafe Press). 

All items are offered as a service to constituents at the minimal percentage markup allowed by those companies.


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