The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #172 (latest issue)

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- OCTOBER 2017 


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“Journey” Banner Now in English

The Russian Brights completed their “The Journey to the Cenozoic Era” (Age of Mammals) banner earlier in the summer in Russian language. Now they’ve made it available in English translation.

From Eugene (project coordinator): “The banner is available in CMYK color… I hope community clusters in English-speaking countries will find it useful.”

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Educational Actions - Big and Small

Give it to the Russian Brights to be living up to the educational ideals of the Brights’ initiative. They not only aspire, they produce!  After establishing a website, they took on another project to illuminate naturalistic understanding. In hopes of producing and disseminating widely a series of colorful and instructive educational banners in support of science education, they garnered scientific and artistic help and came up with their first product (previewed in September’s bulletin), now offering it worldwide in English translation

But Brights’ activities need not be so ambitious. Individuals and small local clusters can make a notable difference if they take the aims of the Brights to heart.

Whereas many endeavors of local Brights clusters may come and go, some projects actually just go on and on. The little outdoor library shown here was set up by Brights in 2013 and continues to illuminate the naturalistic worldview with its stock of books for children aimed at nature and morality, investigation, invention, and critical thinking.

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Motivating Political Participation?

Does religion spur persons to engage in such nonviolent political activities as signing petitions, joining in boycotts, participating in demonstrations, taking part in unofficial strikes, occupying buildings and factories, or voting and membership in political parties?

A large cross-national study recently published in Religion, State, and Society examines the relationship between religion and political activity. Researchers at the University of Kansas examined data that covered over three decades in order to look at the influence that various religious factors had on political participation. The lead researcher, commenting on the new study, reckons from the data that “religious beliefs, by themselves, do not suffice to motivate individuals to act politically.” Thus: “it is incorrect to infer political behavior from religious beliefs alone."

The study itself informs us that while religion may well influence individuals’ opinions on hot-button issues (take same-sex marriage, abortion as examples), personal religiosity doesn’t necessarily propel persons to political participation.  Rather, it interacts with secular configurations and pressures to encourage or deter individuals from engaging with the political world. The study abstract, in summarizing the research, indicates that individuals become more likely to engage in political activity of the types examined due to their affiliation with others, whether it be membership in religious organizations or belonging to other voluntary associations of a secular nature.

Read a summary and interpretation at:
https://phys.org/news/2017-10-religious-beliefs-dont-people-political.html

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Why the name “Bright”?

The "Comment field" in the Bright’s online registration form provides any new registrant with opportunity to say whatever is on their mind. Most registrants leave the space blank, while others spill lengthy thoughts.

Having discovered the Brights' website by way of Googling “secularism” and “apatheism,” a recent registrant into the constituency (Piet, South Africa) had apparently read enough to decide to join. Still, he remained puzzled by the label and asked this short question: “Why the name ‘bright’?

Other recent registrants may wonder the same, but not ask, and so here’s the link that Brights Central provided to Piet. It offers perhaps the most succinct explanation available on the website. 

Despite much discussion over time, "bright" remains the label to date. There have been a multiplicity of suggested replacements, and one very serious attempt to replace the term with “evidist,” but so far the persons who want to illuminate the naturalistic worldview and elevate the civic position of those who hold supernatural-free outlooks, are still “the brights”.  And those who register to say so, are “the Brights!”  (The synopsis on the website offers a comparison of “brights” with “Brights.”)

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From the Heart

If you missed seeing Brights Central's September Equinox fund appeal, you also missed out on one science teacher's testimonial regarding the Earth and Life: change over time wall poster that the Brights distribute to qualified teachers.  Here's an excerpted portion of those remarks:

I love my poster!!... It's literally front and center in my classroom. I refer to it frequently to show that Earth isn't a static, predictable world, but rather a planet defined by change…

I'm very grateful that sound, secular science education has a champion in The Brights - as an independent school science teacher for 12 years now, I've often had to fight to teach critical thinking and evidence-based (read: REAL) science. I am thankful that my current school is fully supportive of my "real science" curriculum!

Students deserve to appreciate the world and all the wonders around them through a lens of discovery and reason, not through a fog of ancient ignorance and pseudo-science nonsense.

Thank you for providing this resource - I'm proud it's the centerpiece of my classroom!

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By the way, The Brights' Net counts on Brights to consider and respond to its twice-a-year Equinox appeal, the direct emailed request to support the nonprofit organization backing the Brights. So, if you haven't read it yet, please do head there right now and show your support. It is guaranted to make you feel great. (You'll also garner applause from staff here at BC-we promise!)

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What Can Happen in a Classroom

The teacher’s comments (above) nicely package both the gratitude to the Brights that so many teachers who receive the poster display and the extent to which the unique image actually facilitates productive learning in their classroom. The students’ “brochures” (pictured here), are examples illustrating this teacher's student work. 

Many thanks to you generous Brights who are supporting this project so that more teachers and students can benefit!

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How One Person Influences 63,000

Brights Central is looking once again to supportive Brights to help gear up for a sixth(!) printing of the Earth and Life: changes over time classroom wall poster. Yes, the supply has dwindled once again(!) with another 55,000 students having benefited from the fifth printing. Recall that, when it comes time to print due to dwindling supply, continued dissemination requires that we "pony up," and the more posters we can order, the lower the per poster cost will be.

Printing an individual poster 5 1/2 foot wide would cost near to $50(!), but thanks to Brights who previously pitched in toward the 5th printing with their $10, $20, and more(!) donations, we were able to accumulate funds sufficient to reduce the per-poster cost to only $12.50!  That's rock bottom for such a large poster printed professionally on quality paper. We are on our way to equalling that achievement this time around, but not quite there, folks!

In order to obtain the lowest cost from the professional printer, we are hoping to acquire at least another $1K of additional donations from Brights. If we are able to reach that, the post-printing dissemination over time will be able to benefit (based on teacher survey data previously acquired) another 63,000 students!

Brights can be proud that the total number of students having gained from a 2-year usage so far has clearly exceeded a quarter million, the count based on survey of teachers who had received the poster, used it, and definitely planned to use it again the subsequent year (additional years of exposure and usage are not being counted in this estimate). 

If you agree that this project is a valuable educational service in support of helping youngsters truly understand how life on earth came to be, jump in now with the most generous donation you can provide.  Thank you!

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Finding French in the Forums

Messages in bottles washed ashore in the Forums this month, as two visitors connected in the French Language Discussion sub-forum across a gulf of seven years, in the Topic “Droits de l’Animal Non-humain” (The Rights of Non-Human Animals).   

Who knows how many others search the history, and how many opportunities for brights to connect with fellow brights are missed?  If you’re visiting the Forums, why not register and post a comment?  It just might reach someone who wishes to engage your ideas.

Or perhaps you have an amazing observation of the natural world to share with an audience likely to appreciate it and share your enthusiasm?  One such is the new Topic “Do Dolphins Speak a Holographic Language?”, posted in the Natural World subforum.  It’s a compelling idea, indeed?  What do you think of it?

Anyone may view most of the Forums; registration is quick and confidential if you would like to comment.  

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Sexual Selection in Human Evolution?

A "Science-Minded Citizen" like Adam Manning (pictured at right, the far right) is typically interested in the natural world and how things have come to be as they are.

This month Adam’s fascination with human evolution led him to consider how it may relate to the development of our bipedal form of locomotion. Might the emergence of our higher level of intelligence be only as a consequence of first becoming fully bipedal?  And what does “sexual selection” have to do with it?  You can read Adam’s personal contemplations in his latest blog post, "Standing up for Sexual Selection in Human Evolution."

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Elephants’ Self-Awareness

Here’s lookin’ at ya! 

Lots of studies have been done with non-human animals investigating their capacity to recognize themselves as separate beings. Typically, it’s via a mirror self-recognition test, which works when the animal of interest has a pretty keen interest in their visual reflection. But elephants? Can an elephant recognize itself as separate from other individuals and objects?

This latest wee story of nature (with the Aesop yarn type of twist) tells the tale.  It departs from the mirror test and yet examines the body-awareness of Asian elephants - testing the animal’s understanding of its place in its environment.

After reading the latest “Hotline Story” from a Danish Bright (available in both Danish and English languages), you can then follow its link to learn more about the actual experiment! Enjoy!

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Halloween Alternative?

@UKBrights posts some grumbling. Must dominant religions continue with the pattern of historical appropriation of customs to suit their needs?


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