The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #132 (latest issue)
March 31, 2014

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- APRIL 2014 


Photo credit: John Cloud, Dreamstime.com

Q: As a Bright, what do I do?

A(1): You can plunge intoBrighteningwhere you are.

A(2): You can back “The Brights’ Net” as you can.

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Three Arenas for Action (A Recap)

In prior polling of the constituency, registrants were asked to identify priority realms for activity by Brights, whether individual or organized.  The surveying process led The Brights’ Net (an educational nonprofit organization) to identify three main arenas for Brights action:

Arena 1:  establishing for the public an alternative (naturalistic) view of how human morality comes about;
Arena 2 pinpointing and promoting experiences for youngsters that will enhance their opportunity to develop into citizens with a naturalistic outlook; and
Arena 3pursuing means and methods of media for educating the public in these matters.

The three realms of activity are wide open to actions in your locale. Keeping the arenas in mind, consider what actions you might take within your own spheres of influence.

At Brights Central, these three realms are being addressed through organized activity.  BC leads mainly by coordinating or supporting volunteer-driven activities. Actions are pursued to the extent resources permit (these come from Brights themselves through targeted donations). General donations go to maintain the nonprofit organization and educate about the Brights.

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Your Naturalistic Worldview

Thinking beyond the “religion frame” leads in new and potentially worthwhile directions for illuminating and elevating the naturalistic worldview.

There’s far more to a naturalistic worldview than the public has been led to recognize!

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New to Our Scientific Panel

We are delighted this month to report the recent addition of Frans de Waal to our panel of scientific reviewers for the overall “Reality about Human Morality” Project. Not only did Dr. de Waal assist in March with his review and validation of the four scientific statements that the MP team had developed to ground this project, he also he pointed toward the recent burgeoning of research in support of our Statement B, developed previously.

A primatologist noted for his exploration of the relationship between apes and humans, including ethical aspects (e.g., Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals from Harvard University Press, 1996), Dr. de Waal has most recently co-edited the newly released anthology: Evolved Morality: The Biology and Philosophy of Human Conscience (Brill, March 2014).

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Solid Scrutiny, a Must

So many of our fellow citizens across the world count as “fact” the conception of morality as having been presented to humanity by a deity through scripture (or similar assertions). The overall thrust of the Brights’ “Reality about Human Morality” Project (Action Arena 1) is to directly confront that notion.

Project activity focused first on acquiring a solid groundwork in current scientific knowledge to show natural underpinnings of human morality. All along, we have been involving noted moral scientists to authenticate our work.

The main task of the current mini-project (infographic, with ancillary explanation) is to produce something that “makes good sense to regular folks.” A simple visual presentation will enable Brights and other science supporters to more readily “get the word around.” Associated website material will augment the visual presentation and challenge the widespread presumption that ethical systems and morals are imparted to humankind by some form of divine being or power.

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Infographic Update (Team Report)

The draft visual is now under scrutiny by experts. The infographic, though simple, is getting a lot of solid expert advice. The evaluation is crucial before we translate the image into different languages. While the draft is being modified and finalized, we are developing basic explanatory information for the website to extend the concepts presented on the visual

We have been receiving lots of valuable assistance this month!  Dr. Jessica Pierce, coauthor of Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, has been very helpful in advising on the draft. Also, Dr. Donald Brown has stepped in to help us out. He has suggested the best terms and phrases to accompany Statement C. (It is Dr. Brown’s previous work that led to the listing of “human universals”.)

The involvement by Dr. Pierce and the other moral scientists in looking over the draft visual (Drs. Oliver Curry and Peter DeScioli) has led to our making only minor modifications in the draft “simplified wording” that we will use (adapting the four scientific statements for public consumption). The major change ahead now will be replacement artwork for Statement D. Then we will have the finalized infographic ready for language translations and expanded availability internationally

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Evolution Poster Noted by NSTA (USA)

(Arena 2, Project Update) A publication of the National Science Teachers Association has announced to its subscribers the availability of the Brights’ Net’s free Earth and Life: changes over time classroom resource. (The associate editor of NSTA Reports had informed BC of its mention in the April 2014 issue.)

Subsequent to the publication, the poster offer will appear on the NSTA’s website with similar mention. This added notice from NSTA should considerably ramp up applications from the targeted high school science teachers!

Please note, Brights:  If you have not already supported this project, do consider giving some help now. Evolution units are typically taught in the 2nd half of a school year. We want to get this to as many classrooms as we can. The youngsters will be under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. For many students, its “big picture, with key details” offers a last chance opportunity for them to become knowledgeable future citizens who actually comprehend the natural story of life on earth.

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Cosmos, in the Forums

It should come as no surprise that a new take on the iconic Cosmos television series has proven of interest to brights, and accordingly it has generated some comment in the Forums. If you have or haven’t watched the show, why not drop by and share your thoughts?

A controversy challenges the conventional view of using medicine to treat depression.  Some researchers competently allege that data showing the effectiveness of antidepressants is weak, wrong, or misinterpreted, and meanwhile many millions of patients and doctors go on consuming the medications on their belief that they work.  Clearly, this is an important dispute!  What do you think about it?

Anyone is welcome to read the Forums, and only a brief and confidential registration process is needed to participate.  See you there!

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It's Easy, Even Free!

Please don’t forget to play at least a small part in giving your “structural support” to the Brights movement.

Most financial support to the communications and activity hub (Brights Central) comes from donations by Brights to the nonprofit organization, The Brights’ Net.

Not everyone can easily supply direct funding. If that describes you, then please don’t forget that you can still provide very valuable financial backing by way of commissions. The Brights’ Net has affiliations through Amazon and iGIve, so your purchases send a small portion our way. (Amazon’s portion is a significant 6 or 7% of your purchase prices!). There’s an eBay arrangement, too, for items you sell.

You may have friends or business associates who also like what we are doing here at BC! If so, tell them about the portals. Maybe they will want to help us maintain the structure and keep doing what we do.

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Corn Rows and Pathways

(Action Arena 2) The March Bulletin item, “Erecting Walls; Opening Horizons,” prefaced a lengthier bulletin discussion contrasting indoctrination with education. The segments drew lots of emailed response, as did the accompanying discussion on the website.

The essay made the point that a degree of adult guidance to “constrain thinking” may be apropos, but parents best not make walls too high. (Imagine the effect of very tall corn rows in the photo.)  Certainly a child would be unable to exercise autonomy of thought when any alternative perspectives are totally “out of bounds.”


Photo credit: Anita Patterson Peppers / Agency: Dreamstime.com

While indoctrination doesn’t allow for doubts or independence of thought, educating allows wider exposure and additional contexts.

This comment from Andrew (Oregon, USA) was among the feedback received:

"I would fall into the camp of those who believe although it is important to teach an understanding, not just a belief, in matters of science, it is also important to not just spoon feed kids a worldview, but rather let them come to it on their own. It doesn't matter if our ideas are backed by good science. If we go down the path of indoctrination (again, the bad kind that the word has come to commonly mean) then we are no better than those who do it with supernatural belief systems."

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Another Way to Say It?

The Dr. Seuss message on the image stated:

Leila (Mexico) emailed to point out another Seuss rhyme that she considered just as relevant. Her verse appears to relate especially to social pressures as they affect children’s independence of thought.

From BC: Thank you for this one, Leila. You have reminded us of another instance at BC. Brights Forum participants previously applied this same image with your Seuss quotation. (It was when they produced a “Brights’ Calendar” with quotations from other luminaries, like Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, Robert Frost, and Louis Pasteur.)

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Need for Pushback by Brights (USA)

From Laura (Michigan, USA):  "This is great! Proclaiming to be an Atheist in America, sadly has an unjustified negative association with being a satan worshiper or having low morals… I definitely hold the worldview as a Bright and am so glad to help spread the word of the movement. There is a major push by the fundamentalist Christians here in America to take over our laws, our science classrooms and Universities. It’s a frightening concept that we may soon be forced into laws and formal public teaching and the brainwashing of our entire society and their political movement must be stopped. People like us need to push back. It’s time to stand up and say enough is enough! Mythical stories should never take precedence over science! Thank you for your great organization. I am proud to be a member!"

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Six Silly Things You Shouldn’t Do

The Rational Woman is once again favoring us with her straightforward advice

Dare we follow it?

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New on the Brights’ Blog

Jeff Stillwell’s artistic specialty is thoughtful whimsy, lightly illustrated.

A couple of months ago he sent Brights Central this catchy cartoon, which we included in the Bulletin.  Now Jeff, whose freethinking alter ego is known as “thrashin’ jack,” is joining the Brights’ blog for a while to contemplate a naturalistic worldview.

Jeff has a Facebook page that turns “jack” loose with opinions about God and how humans have been creating gods across the millennia.  For the Brights’ blog, though, jack’s persona is setting aside the whole “god thing” and taking time to explore some other facets of a naturalistic outlook on life.

Jeff (jack)’s first entry for the Brights’ blog illustrates the concept, “transience” (noun). You’ll have to visit the blog to see a great example of “transience in everyday life.” It’s something that everyone in the family will understand!

He follows with an entry that focuses on what to do with our life span (that “window of light” bookended by two infinities of darkness).

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Awesome Bumper Sticker

New on Merchandise Page

One worthwhile thing every Bright can do is let others know about the Brights movement.  Lots of people know about atheism and agnosticism, but they don’t recognize the entirety of how you look at the reality of the world.

So, let 'em know!

If you’d like to start some conversations, or just help spread the ideas of this initiative, you may want to get one of these newly designed bumper stickers for your car, or bulletin board, or binder. (Or get several!)

They’re 11 inches long, UV protected and very reasonably priced, considering the size of envelope needed. You pay just $3 for one ($5 international, due to postage). Eight dollars ($US 10 international) gets you a cluster of five bumper stickers.

At these prices, the stickers are not going to be money-makers for the movement. Brights Central has priced them at just above cost (and to cover appropriate shipping/handling).

What we hope they do, is what they are intended to do:  offer you more opportunities to act on what the Brights tagline says: illuminate and elevate the naturalistic worldview.

The best way to purchase bumper stickers is through the merchandise page (PayPal linkage), but if you prefer to mail a $US check, you may do so. (Attn: Awesome Sticker, The Brights’ Net, P O Box 163418, Sacramento CA 95816).

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The Brights' Bulletin



The Brights' Net
P.O. Box 163418
Sacramento, CA 95816 USA

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