The Brights' Bulletin

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Issue #215 (latest issue)

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



Take the Time

The general mayhem and rapid pace of change in today’s world makes for a common personal challenge: Where do we get time to think? Yes… think. Just think.

Pause to Ponder. In order for anyone to think more clearly, make better decisions in life, and learn more effectively, pausing is the essential step. So says Jaime Lester, the author of a forthcoming book on critical thinking and decision-making due for publication in 2024. According to the publisher’s promotional material:

  • The author will be offering readers a practical and accessible “thinking how-to” (for business, or life).
  • Lester is drawing on cognitive and behavioral research, as well as a variety of academic disciplines.
  • Furthermore, he will be providing readers with some useful and powerful mental models.

Presumably, acquiring and reading a “how to think” manual will get us a good way along the path toward better thinking and deciding.

  • But… What about that aforementioned essential step the author advocated — the pausing part?

Bottom line. If, as the author states, pausing is truly the essential step to clearer thinking and better decisions, then perhaps those powerful mental models promised on the imminent pages are akin to that cherry on top of our ice cream sundae.

Something to think about, maybe? Faced with our own challenges, with current world complexity and discord, with its instability and uncertainty, what if we just pause? Just take some time. Do the pause. And think.


He Has Been Thinking

One notable person who has done quite a bit of thinking – and thinking about the topic of thinking itself – is Daniel Dennett, one of the constiuency's "Enthusiastic Brights".

We’ve added his recently published I’ve Been Thinking memoir to the set of Dennett-authored items previously featured on the website in the “Books by Brights” collection.

  • More than any previous volume, this book takes an autobiographical look at Dr. Dennett’s own life, but he also helpfully summarizes his current perspective on many familiar issues that philosophers tend to address (free will, consciousness, etc.).
  • Fellow celebrity Bright Richard Dawkins acknowledges the torrent of stimulating thoughts with which his friend Dr. Dennett is blessed. And then with a verbal wink suggesting a twinge of envy, "How unfair!"

As happens when Dennett has given sufficient thinking to prompt his producing an entire book, a goodly number of reviews have accompanied the release of I’ve Been Thinking.

The Amazon promotional says about the book: (“[it] provides a master class in the dominant themes of twentieth-century philosophy and cognitive science”). BC has selected two reviews as favorites for how they blend the philosophical with the life experience of this fascinating man. If you don’t have time for the whole book, then try…


Nones – A Smudge (USA)

The United States, widely considered among the most religious of the developed nations, has recently seen its “Nones” on the rise.

  • The marked increase in these religiously unaffiliated adults has been previously reported by the Pew Research Center.
    (Detailed trends in U.S. religion are illustrated graphically in the Center’s 2021 report “About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Are Now Religiously Unaffiliated.”)
  • That upward trend of the Nones happened during the first two decades of the 21st century and was generally viewed as representing an overall decline in U.S. religiosity.

Religiously speaking, adult population figures have remained mostly stable over the last four years. Here are overall current figures from the latest survey:

  • 40% of American adults are Protestant,
  • 28% are “Nones” – describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular,”
  • 20% are Catholic, and
  • 9% identify with other faiths.

Pew data comes from the Center’s National Public Opinion Reference Survey (NPORS), conducted online and on paper among respondents selected using address-based sampling. The Center uses NPORS to produce benchmark estimates for several areas of study, including religion.

An additional NPORS is reportedly in the planning stages. It is promising us further analysis of the country’s religious composition. The coming survey intends to provide a closer look at folks in the “other faiths” category, such as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and smaller Christian traditions.

Just being curious. What if the Center would also delve a bit more deeply into the portion of the population that is making up that smudge of “nothing in particular” adults? What else might we learn about those folks?  Religiously speaking, who are they, anyway?

  • What sets them apart from those Nones who are claiming atheist/agnostic identity?
  • What factors illustrate their homogeneity/heterogeneity?

Seemingly more could be included in the NPORS’s promised “closer look!


Atheists vs. Brights

Atheist. Bright. These two nouns are not synonyms.

Most folks within the constituency of Brights eventually come to understand that fact. Still, you may see someone somewhere saying that there is a simple equivalence between “being a bright” and “being an atheist.” Not so.

  • If you happen to be a bit shaky about how these two terms of identity differ, then perhaps give the matter a bit more thought.
  • There are several places on the website where distinctions were addressed early on in the initiative. Here. And here. And hereHere, too.

Context matters. Those who identify as atheist (or agnostic) usually have reached a conclusion (about deity) derived within the context of religion (and usually in response to it). The ease or difficulty one may have in reaching and/or stating their stance is generally in response to the cultural strength of encompassing religion.

The colorful spectrum diagram above invites you to recognize that an atheism assertion is specific, and it comes about in reaction to religion (its claims, appeal, vocabulary, etc.). 

A naturalistic worldview is set in the far and wide of the “whole of it” context, so being a bright involves a broad panorama and how one responds to an expansive experiential scope – just everything! 

Notice. There are definitely some atheists who would not be brights! They hold to ESP or a accept one or more of the many hundreds of available paranormal forces, entities, etc. that humans have conceived of. (Perhaps you will be asked by some atheist friend for your astrological sign.) A bright holds no supernatural or mystical agency or entity in mind as they view the world that they live in … the whole kit and kaboodle.

Notice also, regarding religion. Some brights do retain a nominally or culturally religious identity, even if they ignore or just don’t give credence to miracles and such. They appreciate the traditions, conventions, music, etc. but remain brights at heart (in their personal worldview).


Shining Brightness

Registered Brights have a shared opinion that the tag “naturalistic” is a pretty good characterization of their worldview. So, why not visibly show others that you too are in sync with our Brights’ online initiative to illuminate and elevate the naturalistic worldview?

  • Wearing or displaying or using an item exhibiting the Brights’ Net’s icon or logo can serve to signal your commonality with others elsewhere whom you will never meet.
  • It is also a means for informing the range of people who do see you about the Brights… and the existence of the website where they can learn more.

What’s available to you?  You can purchase apparel to wear or other sorts of merchandise from the Café Press Brights’ Shop or from the Kiosk at Zazzle.

Note: All items in both places are provided at the minimal allowable markup the vendor permits. (The Brights’ Net operates from direct donations and arranges for merchandise simply as a service to constituents.).

Both sites have plenty of items for gifting to others, too! For example, at the “Living on the Bright side of life” image is available for purchase on a popular grocery tote. It’s natural. It’s washable, and it’s something anyone can use over and over. Five sizes. Head to our Brights’ Brights’ Kiosk  if interested in this item! (Note: Check the Kiosk occasionally for discounts, and save, because Zazzle sales come and go quite frequently.)


Uplifting Gems? (Ponder and Share)

Here’s a reminder that you are welcome to voice your perspective. (Principle 1 of the Brights initiative allows for plenty of variation across the constituency.)

It’s been a while since Brights Central has welcomed bulletin subscribers to share a bit of personal philosophy as they weigh in on a certain topic. So, let’s do it again and see what rolls in at BC. (We can publish on our web site comments like this or this if there are enough goodies!)

Topic: How does having a naturalistic worldview benefit you when life presents its challenges?? 
(Where can you look to gain a better mood? How do you achieve ease or relief ... find solace and comfort? Etc. Etc.)

  • A great many people are looking to their familiar deity(ies) or paranormal entities in search of some solace, or to gain a more beneficial attitude to facing life as they encounter it. Some pray to their entity with a plea for a change in circumstances..
  • Brights do not do this. Brights just cannot look to entities or agencies that they simply do not hold to actually exist.

Brights take the world as it is. That is, as a wholly natural world (or at least as best science has represented it). There’s just nothing supernatural available to garner one’s attention, nothing to offer consolation and succor in bad times. Nothing—and no one—to pray to. Brights simply face the facts as facts—reality as reality—with nothing supernatural operational.

So – See any advantage there?  -- Any benefit to NOT having at hand (in mind, anyway), some supernatural agent that one can look to for uplift or relief? Just what does holding a naturalistic worldview (free of supernatural and mystical elements) offer you in hard times?

If you’d like to share your thinking (be brief!), just send it along in an email to with MY TAKE in your subject line. Presuming we receive a few positive gems, it’d be nice to share them in a coming bulletin.

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