The Brights' Bulletin

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Issue #178

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



Show It When You Can

When it comes to making music, “Sneakers” has her own ways and takes advantage of opportunities.

As a Bright, you will have your own opportunities (chances to be open about your worldview, and to show that it is free of supernatural and mystical elements). Openness and Visibility are two key pillars of the Brights initiative.

Cat photos by Bruce Geisert (used with permission)

Like making music, showing a naturalistic worldview takes countless forms. Occasions arise. In a constituency of individuals, we each can pursue our own strategies.  

But life is short. So, with prudence, take advantage of conducive opportunities to show how you view the world.

Hint: More influence likely flows your way when you maintain positioning within the civic framework, where democratic ideals of parity and fairness across a citizenry are acknowledged. A society’s dominant lens of religion can bog you down, such that you cannot escape its stranglehold and terminology. Using religion as your framework may unnecessarily label you as “religiously deficient” (read: “morally defective”). 

The next segment is illustrative of how the American religious framework situation can play out within some circumstances. (In many religious societies, the situation is far worse, even hazardous for the citizen.)


Atheist Means “Dangerous”? (USA)

We’ve reported in recent bulletins about how, overall, the U.S. population is becoming increasingly secular, especially as more teens, along with young adults, show themselves less likely than older Americans to maintain any religious affiliation (many say they cannot satisfactorily resolve for themselves the existence of evil with a loving God).

At the same time, there is widespread evidence of extreme intuitive moral prejudice against atheists. The very designation “atheist” has, in numerous studies of religion and atheism, shown itself to be a powerful trigger for distrust.

There is, of course, considerable regional variation. A recent election for Tennessee state senate illustrates how hard it can be for an atheist candidate to be viewed as trustworthy. Amid homogenous demographics, the state’s lieutenant governor can even brand her dangerous!

Again, moral prejudice factors into both the partisan back and forth and the outcome. The state senate loser was not only running in a highly religious community, but talking to people on the campaign trail who had never met another nonreligious person! Her opponent, touting his Christianity as “a moral compass and how I look at things,” said many people he spoke to had found it "unbelievable" that his opponent was an atheist.

He was easily elected.


Morality Portal Updated - Thirty More Studies!

Wow! – and Hooray! The Brights’ Reality about Morality Web Portal has gained thirty key additions!

Ruban, who led the project team, has aggregated the latest in peer-reviewed research and, with BC’s webmaster Kevin having plugged away at the task, our website now includes even more evidence for the natural underpinnings of human morality.

The newest material adds empirical potency to the Brights’ morality infographic, with its authenticated statements evidencing a near-indisputable scientific consensus that belief in the supernatural is NOT required for morality. (Brights Central and the project team had worked with noted morality researchers to obtain validation of the infographic’s four assertive statements.)

The web portal provides direct link access to the “open science” published studies (PDF format) supporting each statement so that serious students of the subject can independently examine, parse, test, and evaluate the collected body of scientific literature and draw their own conclusions about the nature of morality for themselves.

If interested, you can also keep up with newest research on the subject by way of these latest additions (in the web page list, search the date, 2017).


When Updating Leads to More Updating!

Newcomers to the Brights since 2016 may not yet be aware of the many resources produced during the “Reality about Morality” Project. Thankfully, one product was a PDF handout that summarized the overall project and its products. 

Trouble is, by adding more studies now, the handout needs a new version. It’s not 100 scientific studies anymore; our total now approaches 150!  Except for the number change, however, the handout still provides easy access to a portal overview for anyone not familiar with its contents. Check it out!

History: The project team (consisting of Brights Central and volunteers) collaborated with renowned morality researchers to produce four scientific statements (see morality infographic). The portal displays those same researchers’ recommendations as to the best books and articles (to serve as good introductory material to the study of morality for lay readers). Other efforts included drafting of explanatory material and coordination with volunteer translators around the world to make the infographic along with brief explanations available for sharing in 15 global languages.

Now that we’re updating (due to the strengthened empirical support), the time is ripe for adding to those 15 languages.  If successful in locating more volunteers (see next item), we will just need to update that handout again!


Calling for Translators (Urdu, Hindi, Norwegian)

Many thanks to those of you who responded last month and indicated interest and willingness to add yourself to our “translation volunteers” database. Brights Central is holding on to your contact information and interests (by language) and will call on you as needs arise.

Right now, to extend the global reach of the website’s science-based interpretation of how human morality actually came about—naturally (no supernatural!)—we are highlighting translation needs in three languages: Hindi, Urdu, and Norwegian.

We have some hopes of making the website’s concise morality portal available to residents of India, Pakistan, and Norway. When completed, Brights in those nations will be able to share the resulting portal material with their citizens in an understandable language. (The portal’s succinct gloss continues to be the most shared and, other than the home page, most accessed section of the Brights’ website. The task of translating the infographic and its associated explanations is only a few pages in length.)

If you would like to explore working with BC to carry out a translation process from English into HINDI, URDU, or NORWEGIAN (bokmål version), please email to with the specific language in upper case letters in your subject line.  Briefly state your capability. You do not need to be a professional translator (although those are welcome!), but you do need to be comfortable in both English and the target language so you can join with others in a small volunteer task team for a drafting and review/revision process.


Equinox Funds BC Another 6 Months

Thanks go to all Brights who responded with donations at the recent Equinox appeal, and particularly to those of you who earmarked your donation to help Brights Central respond to the recent sudden influx of teacher requests for the Earth and Life: change over time poster. (Special thanks to the donor who has matched those donations.) We are making progress!

We can all be proud that the Brights are making this unique contribution to how students in these science classrooms (future citizens of the world) will view life on planet earth and how it came to be via evolution.

If you missed the Equinox appeal, we could still use your help. There’s a lot more to do on this project.


Go Ahead – Show It Off”!

Visibility.  Bright pride!  One worthwhile thing every Bright can do is let others know about how brights regard the reality of the world. So, let 'em know!

An image like the above can draw attention and perhaps start up a conversation. A bumper sticker eleven inches wide is priced on the website at barely above the cost covering appropriate shipping/handling.

For USA Brights, a standard $3 donation will get it to you after we at BC have taken some effort to avoid creating a crease while mailing it. And for international, the standard $5 USD will scarcely cover postage for the same. Simply click on the image above to locate these purchase options on the merchandise page.  However, if you want a bargain, read on…


Grab a Bargain

If you don’t mind a crease, then this month of April (only) BC will send it at a bargain, folded into a standard envelope.

If a U.S. resident, then you can actually get yours totally free by sending a self-addressed and stamped (71 cents) envelope to Brights Central. Mail your SASE envelope to Attn: Awesome Sticker, The Brights' Net, P O Box 163418, Sacramento CA 95816 USA.

• Internationally, we can send a bumper sticker for just a $2 USD PayPal one-time donation (that’s less than the price that Americans usually pay). Be sure to put “AWESOME STICKER” in your standard PayPal order and be sure to complete your postal address. 


Those "Non-Joiner" Brights

At Brights Central, it’s especially enjoyable to see when someone who rarely joins any group (or is very hesitant about doing so without considerable thought) goes ahead and joins the constituency of Brights anyway.

Here are recent examples (what such individuals said when enrolling):

• Jack (United Kingdom): I am delighted to find a group of people so dedicated to this specific view. I often feel like I am one in a small minority of people and that mumbo-jumbo is believed without any evidence simply because people are ignorant to the millions of things in motion around them.

• Jose (Netherlands): Great - for the first time in my life I belong to a group  :)

• Lisa (WA, USA): I've been lurking on your website for 6 weeks making sure I understand your mission and that I agree. I do, and it is time to add my name to your ranks as a Bright. Thank You

New Brights like these deserve a special welcome and some assurances: You can still dance to your own tune!  (There is no dogma in the Brights! There isn't even a clear religion/nonreligion divide.)

Every participant in the movement keeps his/her personal beliefs. (There's no common manifestos to sign onto, and no need to endlessly parse philosophy.) We can each happily claim to hold “a naturalistic worldview,” and that's that.

What we all are being urged toward is this: doing what we can to “embrighten” our broader community. Consequently, BC will continue to urge you to pay attention to the positive action pillars outlined on the website: constructive engagement and principled participation.)


From the International Forums

Members of the Brights international discussion forums are interested in evolution — and not just the historical kind, but the future of it, in all its forms.

In the case of ethical and moral evolution, there is a Topic regarding the treatment of the so-called “lower” animals. The country of Sweden has lately made it illegal to transport food lobsters on ice, or to own just one guinea pig (“they get lonely”) as this may inflict suffering upon our fellow creatures.  But there seem to be unresolved difficulties and political disputes as to whether or not such laws may be addressing a problem we should care about — can we really know whether or not crustaceans can suffer in ways that really matter?  Are not the interests of beings evolved to process animal foods to be weighed in the balance against the interest of that sort of food source?

In the case of technological evolution, a member recently noticed that a Tesla semi-autonomous car using it’s time-of-flight LIDAR and automatic braking system to detect and evade a highway accident that had not even yet occurred. Later, an Uber test vehicle tragically struck a pedestrian, suggesting that the technology still leaves a lot to be desired.  What are your thoughts about self-driving cars that promise to safely enhance our autonomy, but seem so far from perfect as of now?

Perhaps you have an opinion, one way or another.  All are welcome to read the Forums, and to add your opinion requires only a brief and confidential registration.  We hope to see you there! 


Crowding Brings Brilliance?

Could growing up within a crowded urban setting perhaps be beneficial to one’s cognitive performance?

Actually, this month’s wee story of nature doesn’t explore that question (with humans, anyway). It does explore the general issue with wild, cooperatively breeding Australian magpies.

The study of interest suggests that living in larger groups promotes cognitive development. Its repeated cognitive testing of juveniles at different ages showed a correlation between group size and cognition emerging in early life (which bodes well for their subsequent reproductive success).

This "Hotline Story," like previous ones from a Danish Bright, is available in both Danish and English languages).

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