Enthusiastic Brights (Page 2)
Michael Shermer is a science writer, founder and publisher of Skeptic magazine, the director of the Skeptics Society, host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at Caltech, an adjunct professor at Occidental College, and the author of many works including Why We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, Why People Believe Weird Things, and The Science of Good and Evil. He has a column in Scientific American. Visit the Skeptic website, and read his bio as the Director of the Skeptic.
Penn & Teller
This talented pair has a way of presenting complex ideas in a simple and fun way--all on their own distinctively offbeat terms--via stage, television, three best-selling books, numerous articles, and "Bullshit!” (an Emmy-nominated program that had tackled the frauds and fakes behind such topics as talking to the dead, alien abductions, feng shui, and yes, even religion). The pair received rave reviews for their Off Broadway show and Emmy award-winning PBS special, “Penn & Teller Go Public.” Their understanding of magic and ability to relate to audiences has also garnered serious academic attention (they served as Visiting Scholars at MIT and have lectured at Oxford University and the Smithsonian Institution). In 2001, Penn & Teller received the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. Their Web address is http://www.pennandteller.com
Kevin lives in Sacramento and spent three years maintaining the day-to-day technical operations of the-brights.net as a volunteer. Before switching to his current employment position, he also volunteered his time to maintain an online presence for these other groups based in Sacramento: Freethought Day: "A Celebration of Reason, Freethought, and Church/State Separation," the local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Atheists and Other Freethinkers. Nowadays, when not tweaking bits and bytes for his job with the state of California (he is a programmer) or attending meetings of freethought, humanist, and separation of church and state groups, Kevin pursues an active life camping, hiking, and running in marathons.
Theo has been a skeptic from an early age, and he registered as a Bright right away when he first learned of the movement in a Richard Dawkins article on the pages of Wired magazine. When residing in the Washington, D.C. area and creating websites of all sizes for varied clients in the public, private and non-profit sectors, Theo volunteered to design and build the site you are currently using. Theo is continually seeking out knowledge and enjoys getting to the bottom of usability issues in order to help make the Web more accessible and easier to use. Theo has moved to New York City now and joined with others in a startup enterprise, but he continues to advise on technical matters when called upon in the tough situations that once in a while arise.
Leo is the executive secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement and chairperson of the Center for Inquiry-Nigeria. Leo is a member of the IHEU Growth and Development Committee and Atheist Alliance International Board of Directors. He is the editor of the Humanist Inquirer and author of numerous articles on African Humanism, skepticism and freethought (most recently in The Guardian). He addresses the situation in Nigeria at international gatherings and by regularly calling on the Nigerian National Assembly to honour its commitments as a signatory of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights documents. In articles that he writes, he calls for reason, common sense, thoughtfulness, knowledge, love, tolerance, human solidarity and empathy. One of Leo's special interests is organized student humanism in Nigeria.
The Brights' Net' Co-founder and current Director has been an educator at all levels of instruction, from elementary open school through university professor, including at Gallaudet University for the Deaf, Washington, DC. From Sacramento CA, she continues to coordinate a religion-neutral professional web resource for educators you can visit at: www.teachingaboutreligion.org. Mynga currently serves on the national advisory councils of Americans United and the 3Rs (rights, respect, responsibility) religious liberty project for teachers. She stays active in freethought organizations at local, national, and international levels. While president of her local group, she started an annual October Freethought Day outdoor fair, now endorsed by the mayor and in its 7th year. The "Reason for the Season" holiday project she instituted fortified public library offerings for children (in skepticism and secular morality). Her primary advocacy is for civic justice and pluralism. As its co-chair for seven years, she has transformed a "freethought-focused" Darwin Day in Sacramento into a community-wide "science education event" with university and college co-sponsorship.
August E. Brunsman IV
August has been a leader in the campus freethought movement since he co-founded Students For Freethought at the Ohio State University and served as its president from the summer of 1997 to the summer of 2000. The group grew to be one of the largest and most successful campus freethought groups in the U.S. He has been a Camp Quest counselor since 1999 and now serves on the camp's national board as Vice President. Since 2001, August has been Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance, which educates high school and college students around the U.S. about the value of scientific reason and the intellectual basis of secularism. He has been instrumental in bringing American youth to the humanist movement and keeping them involved.
For over 25 years Robert's professional mission has been to create computer software that is fun, beautiful, or useful. Robert also loves to teach, whether the subject is computers, juggling, or secular studies-- and he's always up for a good debate. That's why he started Tracking the Bright Idea on his web site until Google made it so easy (you'll still find comments there from all over the Web on the very beginnings of The Brights).
This Bright from Wisconsin is a former marriage and family counselor with over 25 years of clinical experience. She has published more than a hundred essays on parenting, relationships, and mental health issues. Author of The Prize (a novel about bullies and victims), she now writes a column for fun in her local press. Says Marilyn: "I wasn't born a bright. Like everyone else, my brain didn't come automatically equipped with a worldview. The worldview I was benevolently inducted into was Christian. It took a lot of reading, studying, and questioning before I was able to achieve my enlightenment. I'm proud of my accomplishment. That's the best reason I can think of for coming out of the closet. Those who know me consider me to be a good and moral person. That's another reason for wearing my worldview proudly." She takes "A Look on the Bright Side of Social and Religious Issues" in one of her essays.
Hemant is currently the chair of the Secular Student Alliance board of directors (http://www.secularstudents.org), but he may be better known as the guy who "sold his soul on eBay" when he offered to go to the church of the highest bidder's choosing in early 2006. Since the auction, Hemant has appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Sun-Times, and Seattle Times, as well as featured on Fox News Channel and the journal Leadership. His popular blog is called the "Friendly Atheist" ( http://www.friendlyatheist.com ) and his book I Sold My Soul on eBay came out in 2007.