The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #136 (latest issue)
July 31, 2014

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- AUGUST 2014 



Background: NASA 

Morality: It’s Only Natural!

Let’s start with updating aspects of the “Reality about Human Morality Project” to cite the recent accomplishments.

Recall that this project sheds light on the basis of morality. The Brights’ Net is factually addressing the popular presumption that human morality necessarily relies on, or relates to, some sort of supernatural constraints or involvement.

The Infographic — Hooray! It is now completed in English, and volunteer Brights are busily taking it from there into eight additional languages. (If someone who is a professional English/Russian translator steps forward, we will gladly add that language as well; recently, “TheBrightsRussia” has shown significant productive activity at illuminating the naturalistic worldview.)

The Four “Blurbs” — The Brights’ coordinating team has been devising for online viewing some brief non-academic explanations of the four empirical statements. Targeted to laypeople, these 4 write-ups have really straightforward intent. We have already revised the (“too academic”) drafts to improve reading ease.  (Now we have asked a couple of ethicists to review the simplified language, for accuracy.)

The Plan — Rather than releasing the infographic in English version first, we will strive for a simultaneous launching. All nine versions will be accompanied by nine sets of explanatory information. Please wait until everything comes together to send any of your friends to this topic!

The Burgeoning Bibliography — While volunteers are busy with translating, the coordinating team is pursuing an additional angle. First, we are strengthening our empirical argument by including more recent studies. Also, to the extent feasible, we plan to advance the cause of open science. The Brights’ Net wants to ease access to the research studies themselves by providing the full texts, in downloadable PDF format, for whichever studies have already been made available by the researchers outside of journal paywalls. (If doable, it would be the nearest thing to a “one stop shop” for researchers and educators alike.)

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Nine Infographics/Nine Languages

The language translations are really rolling in for the “Reality about Human Morality” infographic. Thank you, volunteers! We seem to have acquired quite enough actual translation help for each of the languages.  What a fantastic response to Brights Central’s infographic translation request!

(Note to the volunteers: Most of you indicate a desire to plunge into translating the four blurbs, as well. We really appreciate that. You are making an important contribution. We want the empirical findings to be readily understood when viewed by the hoped-for lay audience. We can help that happen via the website material.)

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Got the Language Expertise?

Ten minutes, too?  There’s a survey up online for each language: 

If you are very comfortably fluent with both English and one of these, you can help!

As might be expected, not everyone who translates will cast an idea in the same way. To deal with differences in some phrasing by our volunteer translators, we are turning to additional (potentially interested) Brights for advice.

We want to know which way of presenting the information you find best for general audience understanding of the presentation. The infographic’s text will be “fixed” at its dissemination. (No chance for later editing.) 

Vote for the most lucid and effortless of the alternatives that the survey presents. Please keep the main criterion (general audience) in mind. Our infographic aspiration? — “The concepts are clear, and the reading is easy.”

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Social Media and PR

Brights Central welcomes ideas for how best to debut the completed Morality infographic on the Web for varied target audiences (and in the varied languages).  Help us plug into the right places!

If you have experience in communicating social scientific concepts to the lay public and/or policymakers, please take this opportunity to offer your suggestions or expertise. Email your advice to the-brights@the-brights.net with LAUNCHELP in uppercase letters in the subject line.  Please remember to state your full name and geographic location.

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No Supernatural Ingredients!

(August Free Offer) You can convey the essence of “Brightness” on your own car or cubicle (or any window you own). It’s free! 

There are “no supernatural ingredients” in the naturalistic worldview. During August only, Brights Central is pointing out that aspect of the Brights’ initiative. We will mail a static cling to any Bright who posts to BC a self-addressed (#10) envelope properly stamped with one ounce USA postage (49˘)

Order One / Get Two — Mail your request to Cling Offer / The Brights’ Net / PO Box 163418 / Sacramento CA 95816. (If your request is received by August 25, we will insert a bonus cling in your envelope.)

Double It / Triple ItGift a cling to someone else:  If you slip a US dollar or two into your SASE envelope, you will be showing generosity to fellow Brights who reside outside the USA. These funds, compliments of American Brights, will go directly toward international postage so BC can provide the same free offer across the globe, and we will fulfill as many such requests as we can. Are you outside the USA? – You can email your plea for a cling to the-brights@the-brights.net (CLINGPLEASE?)

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Enthusiastic Bright

Meet Susan.

As “A Rational Woman,” she has been blogging on the Brights’ Net since late 2012. She has definitely shown her enthusiasm for the Brights movement. So, we’re re-introducing her. Susan K Perry appears as herself on the website in the “Enthusiastic Brights” segment.

If you haven’t yet chanced upon Susan, you can explore her “Enthusiastic Bright” entry and follow its varied links. She has three blogs[!] and seven books, too, including a novel exploring this issue: “How does an advice columnist cope with great loss without faith?” If you’re looking for a summer/winter read, note that Susan has a way with words, and also an easy focus on aspects of living life without reliance on supernatural.

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Education and Action (TheBrightsRussia)

The YouTube channel of “TheBrightsRussia” continues to put up educational presentations at a goodly pace, primarily utilizing translation into Russian from discussions or presentations in other languages.  Among the recent items published is Enthusiastic Bright, Daniel Dennett’s 2002 discussion of “memes.” (1800 views).

“Vkontakte” (the largest social network in Russia) is the place to find lots going on with “TheBrightsRussia” (which has grown to over 21,000 followers).  “TBR” sometimes plans and introduces notables into the discussion. Featured recently: pseudoscience debunker Ben Goldacre (shown above).

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Paranormal Beliefs Abound (USA)

Ben Goldacre's “Battling Bad Science” TED talk was filmed in English in 2011. Perhaps that presentation should be viewed more widely in the USA?

After all, pretty depressing data abounds about the prevalence of paranormal belief in the United StatesYikes!

Ben's talk can be seen in many places across the globe since it is available in 37 languages. (Maybe the link should be conveyed to your fellow citizens where you live? Best to view before you share, though.)

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Giving Airtime to Cranks (The Media)

Editorial guidelines on impartiality tend to drive reporters toward acquiring “the other side” of an argument. The result can be public confusion on crucial issues.

A recent UK Brights twitter post highlighted the problem of media giving “undue attention to marginal opinion” in its desire to “strike balance.” Even if a fringe viewpoint has been utterly dismissed, some crank will be quoted. Such “this side / that side” treatment is widespread in American media, and perhaps elsewhere.

Thankfully, the BBC has begun providing seminars and workshops for staff to better train them in giving proper emphasis to the weight of scientific agreement. Brights need to speak to this problem and bring pressure for sustained movement in that direction when encountering “false balance” where they live.

Media in all forms should be responsible for trying to “establish where the weight of scientific evidence” lies so as to make it clear to the audience.

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Purchasing for School or Business?

Whatever you may be shopping for, if you find yourself going to Amazon, please don't forget to start your shopping session at the special "Amazon links" on the Brights' website.

Any purchase(s) made during that shopping session will return a commission of 6 or 7 percent to The Brights' Net!  It's a way you can support the Brights for free! There is absolutely no cost to you. (If you depart the Amazon site and return later, the process must be begun again.)

Similar arrangements (much lower commissions) have been made at iGive.com, which services over 1800 online stores.

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Report from the International Forums

Stop by the Forums for a brief tour through “The Strange World We Live In:  The Ontology of Physics.” Does energy come from motion?  Can the properties of an object be separated from that object?  What are properties, anyway?  Does Quantum Mechanics really mean that elementary particles have indistinct locations? These are just a few of the questions about which you might learn or opine in the Topic.

Folk tales, fairy tales, mythic figures, magical beings….  Should children hear about these?  On the one hand, these superficially harmless imaginings have been features of the upbringing of almost every adult alive to some extent, so they can’t be so terrible, right?  These literary forms and imaginary beings have been central to the ethical education of many of us.  On the other hand, some would argue that the premises of the stories, or the suspension of belief required for their enjoyment, can carry through even to the reader’s adulthood and complicate a mature understanding of the world.  What do you think?  Contribute to the Topic to let us know.

Registration to the Forums is quick and confidential.  See you there!

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Insights from Brights

Blogging Brights.net is where one can ponder the realities of living a life on “the bright side” (i.e., from a supernatural-free outlook).

Here are some recent entries in the blog:

The Truth About Getting Older"
A Rational Woman ponders some highs and lows that accompany this very personal actuality.

 

"Knowing the Self Brings Peace
As illustrated by Thrashin’ Jack
More

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The Power of One - Multiplied!

Brights are individuals — individuals who care about issues that matter. The constituency of Brights (The Brights’ Network) supplies an international home base for Brights. It welcomes new registrants, connects Brights with one another, and guides select projects.

The Brights' Net hub is a nonprofit organization, and it relies on you. The power to magnify what happens with “the Brights” online is yours. 

As a Bright, you have the capacity to keep up both capacity and momentum for the constituency. The best way to do that is through your ongoing financial support. You can help to “sustain the Brightness” of our activities and concerns by adding yourself to those who help with regular ongoing contributions of small amounts.

Larger donations are never rejected, of course (in fact, they are much appreciated), but even the smallest amount, provided monthly, makes a huge difference when enough participants are doing their part. If you are not already enrolled to help, please consider doing so. Three options are available to for small monthly donations. See the “Recurrent Donations” section to sign up!

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What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?

Some Ways To Say It As a Bright

One means to “illuminate and elevate the naturalistic worldview” is by contributing your thoughts. Let others know what you think. Consider these channels.

The Brights’ Blog

You may wish to contribute a thoughtful piece to one of the Brights bloglines at BloggingBrights.net

Your Own Blog —This pathway is only if you absolutely love to write, because you need to be able to persevere in duration a year (not so easy). Still, if you would like to propose a blog, please do so.

“The Science-Minded Citizen” —This route is much easier, because the blogline itself derives from multiple contributors (it is not the product of a single person). This means that you can write on a specific topic, and just one article. Check out the specifics.
   
A New Blog Category: “Luster”

Carrying forward the idea of having different contributors in a blogline (as we do in “The Science-Minded Citizen”), Brights Central will next month be opening up another category at BloggingBrights.net. 

“LUSTER” is for any topic, but the piece should contain at least some glimmer or shimmer of “brightness” as the author sees it. Bright pearls of wisdom? Perhaps. Not guaranteed. Read more about it.

The Brights’ Forums

A way to more briefly share your thoughts with others is via the international discussion forums.  These forums offer a means by which you can introduce your own issues. (Of course, some discussants prefer to simply react to issues contributed by someone else.)

Both brights and supers can participate in the forums. A separate “forum registration” is required.

When there are news items, you can put in your two cents and check to see what others think. For example, what do you think about the “atheist TV” (Roku channel), recently launched? Do you know about it? Did you check it out? Now -  Is it going along as you thought it would, or not?  Is it helpful to our cause of civic acceptance, or not?

When there is a topic of considerable relevance to current international activity by Brights, you can present your data to settle questions. For example, consider this question from someone on the Forums:
“[w]hy do so many atheists go to such great lengths to discredit the studies which demonstrate the link between religiosity and charity? Credit where credit is due - the religious do more charity and so-called ‘good works’ than we do.”
How do you react? Got anything to contribute? When Brights Central’s main action arena (human morality) is a focus, data becomes relevant.

If you already know you enjoy discussion, you might find yourself “a Forum regular” – not only making your opinions known. More importantly, you will provide information/data! Forum folks want you to back up what you think, and also be open to changing your mind.  It’s the nature of Brights’ forum discussions. They’re pretty civil, and informative. Hang around, and you may find yourself making friends.


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