The Brights' Bulletin

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Issue #149

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Forthrightness & Framing

Having a worldview free of supernatural and mystical elements generally means a negative cultural and religious positioning for Brights. As any debater knows well, if the opposition has framed an argument a certain way, one may find it hard to be convincing. (How a situation is framed does matter.)

Brights are generally framed already by way of prevailing religion. A person is viewed with respect to deity belief (lacking such). This framing highlights what is not accepted. As common journalistic terminology puts it: “nonbeliever.”

Unless personal safety is at issue, as is the case in some places, we Brights have cause to be straightforward about having a supernatural-free outlook. How else to illuminate and elevate the naturalistic worldview (the Brights’ tagline)? But what will be the context for establishing others’ understanding or interpretation?  It matters.

Frame, or be framed.  How will you prefer to “enframe”* yourself? 
*to construct in words so as to establish a context for understanding or interpretation

There are options as to how we Brights present ourselves. You can convey an affirmative and more holistic interpretation of your outlook. Our worldview leans us in scientific, realistic, and evidence seeking directions. So, do some “enframing” of yourself. As a citizen of the world, Bright on! 


Bad Timing for Bloopers

It was a pretty rough September Equinox for Brights Central, and we’d like you to know:  “It wasn’t our fault!”  In fact, even now we just don’t know for sure whose fault it was, but we don’t think it was ours. As Kevin, our webmaster, has phrased it: there was a “hiccup” someplace, possibly occasioned by the recent eBay/PayPal corporate split.

What we do know is that it wasn’t too long after the recent fund appeal was sent out that the signs of trouble (somewhere) appeared. As donation reports were coming in, so too were short emails like this one from Robert, in the UK:

“i tried to donate but paypal says the page does not exist”

Robert was far from alone in encountering a dead end while trying to back the Brights.  After deciphering the situation from BC, we discovered all failed attempts came from outside the USA (e.g., UK, Russia, Norway). To our knowledge, Americans utilizing the very same link on our donation page had no problems.  We have engaged PayPal Giving Fund (for nonprofits) to identify the problem and have experienced some slow action.  To those affected, we regret the technical problem.

As a temporary workaround, if you experienced an erroror, if you just forgot to donate last month or are so excited to do so right now while you have it on your mindplease use this link to route around the PayPal Giving Fund and donate directly, via PayPal. PayPal will take out a small percentage, but it will succeed. Please do hang with us until we can get the nonprofit route remedied.


Morality Infographic, and More

Announcement:  September saw BC putting up the Hebrew translation of the “Reality about Morality” infographic (augmented by web portal explanations, also in Hebrew).

Many thanks to the volunteers who helped with that one! The Brights’ Net's morality portal now has 15 languages besides English with which to make available to a broad global audience a concise scientific view of how human morality actually came about.

If you would like to work with Brights Central to carry out the translation process with another language, please email to with LANGUAGE in upper case letters in your subject line.


A Fabulous Children’s Book

Last month we asked readers for their nominations of the best book likely to constructively keep open a childl’s pathway to a naturalistic understanding of the world.  We asked: “But suppose you could provide only one book to a youngster (any age). What would it be?”

Of “the single book you’d hold paramount” (just one) recommendations received so far, we will start out with mention of “Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution,” a delightful book for adults to read to pre-schoolers.

The crowd-funded book’s approach to evolution is similar to that taken by Richard Dawkins in “The Ancestor’s Tale.” That is, a “looking backward” to what came before. This technique was also used in constructing the Brights' Evolution poster.

When recommending Grandmother Fish to BC, Bob (Michigan, USA), referred us to a highly descriptive review by Paul Braverman. There are additional reviews on the Amazon site, almost uniformly positive. (If you are a potential purchaser from that corporation, you can use this picture link (to or, for additional Amazons’ shopping, go by way of the Brights’ portal, which garners The Brights’ Net 7% of your purchase price at no cost to you.)

Have you not yet submitted your own "best book" recommendation?  Please do so by providing title and author and, if you can, a link to further information (or send an abstract).  Email your “top choice” to with BEST (in upper case letters, please) in your subject link.


Speaking of Books?

Brights do keep writing!  Here are two new books that may be of interest and, if acquired by way of the Brights’ Amazon links, will bring a small commission bonus to the Brights.

Richard Dawkins has completed his second volume of memoirs (“Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science”), and A C Grayling has come up with a compilation of essays (“The Challenge of Things: Thinking through Troubled Times”).

Are we missing any other new books by the Enthusiastic Brights? Or, perhaps, just by you? Books by Brights do get posted to the website (and, if well aligned with the Brights initiatives, receive a mention in a Bulletin). So, if you have been a Bright for at least six months, be sure to let BC know about any book you have published recently. Simply email to with the specifics.


Faith Schools and Nonreligious Voices (UK)

In the UK, one of the more prominent voices for the nonreligious is the National Secular Society (tagline: “challenging religious privilege”). Among other actions, the NSS has led a charge against the growing number of faith schools, pointing out that these unregulated religious bodies are divisive. They not only conflict with a need to provide a unified sense of British values, they are badly letting children down. The NSS argues that priority be given to the rights of British children to an appropriate education.

The NSS has also long challenged the BBC's focus on Christianity as being out of proportion to the changing demographics of the society. The BBC, widely seen to privilege religion, has resisted changes that would open it up to diverse opinions on the airwaves, inclusive of atheists and humanists. Its ongoing failure to permit contentions to be aired has spurred the most recent push by NSS urging more inclusive programming. The group is asking citizens to back a suggestion that the longstanding feature (the “Thought for the Day,” which interrupts in the middle of news programming) be transformed into a more open “Philosophy Slot.” It’s an action UK Brights may wish to consider. 


At the International Forums

Unprecedented movements of human beings seem to be in the offing, especially right now in Europe.  Members of the Forums have expressed concern for the migrants from war-torn areas — and worries about the destabilizing influence of such a large new population moving into the West. It's both a fascinating academic exercise and a heartbreaking humanitarian challenge.  Do you have any advice for brights struggling to understand?

In the USA, it seems: “another day - another mass shooting.”  But the debate around solutions to the problem have become some of the most polarizing of the modern age.  Some insist that only an absolute ban of personal weapons can stem the tide, while others demand the right to keep their own weapons — sometimes to defend themselves against the very kinds of violence such a policy enables. But new ideas begin to circulate: public health experts recommend treating violence like an epidemic, and programs are getting results.  Primers and polemics available at the link.

A free and frank exchange of ideas is welcome, and registration is easy and quick. Come read and write!


Beyond Awe? – How about Numinous?

Last month’s bulletin remarked on an atheist having recounted in his memoir being “ambushed by God” and feeling “utterly cared for” (while in the Minnesota north woods wilderness at twilight).

We grasped for a term with which to express that individual’s “profound spiritual experience with the divine”?  How best for conveying the encounter that the atheist had imparted? He described the phenomenon as one of being flooded by a “bone-true and javelin-straight” sensation, one that “so dwarfed any similar feeling ever previously experienced”.

We used a fabricated term (“awereál”) to convey “beyond awe and engendered by reality.” According to Alan (United Kingdom), our choice was AweFul  ;-)

He proposed "peak experience" instead.

Andrew (Oregon, USA) suggests the more accurate extant term would be “numinous” (awe-inspiring; evoking a sense of the transcendent, mystical or sublime).


Just Plain Awesome

Another sky treat recently was the lunar eclipse of the Harvest Moon. It will be many more years before a repeat of this quite splendid celestial circumstance (2033).

Also quite impressive, even if false-colored, is the 9/28/15 view from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicating presence of briny liquid water.

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