Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm a Bright

I had heard of Brights once before, while researching Camp Quest for my kids, but I didn't know what they were until I read about them in Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.

Afterwards, I checked out the Brights' site to learn more about them.

What is a bright?

  • A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview
  • A bright's worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements
  • The ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic worldview
So, the basic idea is to put people under two umbrella categories: Brights and Supers (Supers include anyone who believes in the supernatural). The benefit of this is that everyone with a naturalistic worldview can come together under one banner.

My personal beliefs do not reflect the beliefs of the Brights community in general, except the qualifying naturalistic worldview that is free of mystical elements.

I like the noun "Bright" because it gives me the opportunity to talk about what I believe, where "Atheist" or "Agnostic" is more focused on what I don't believe, which leads most people to immediately assume that I believe in nothing.

I believe in everything that I can see and touch and smell and feel. I believe in most things that logically make sense based on what I have seen and touched and smelled and felt in my lifetime.

I believe that my life is as significant as I choose to make it.

I believe that life is rare and precious, and that the lives and feelings of others are every bit as important as my own.

I believe that everything in the universe is in a constant state of flux; that nothing remains unchanged. I believe that when we try to keep things the same, or try to make the world conform to some ideal notion of the way it should be, we are going against the natural flow of the universe. I believe that these conservative ideals are futile and counterproductive.

I believe that it would be immensely beneficial for humanity to let go of all of its conservative ideals and unite with the common goal of marching forward into the stars.

I believe that the universe is indifferent to our existence; that we must be our own saviors.

I believe that the future of our species absolutely depends on us working together for the future of our species.


Tom Clark said...

Hi Heather,

Glad to know you're a bright. Which means you might be interested in the Center for Naturalism and Naturalism.Org.


Tom Clark

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I don't know about Bright, its never really "felt" right. It could be perceived as arrogant - we are brightt, intelligent and naturally if you are not with us you are...

frish said...

Dear Heather: Glad you are also a bright!

Yes, the term itself remains "in their face" as Sean points out.

However, it will do for now, as it is an affirmative solution to the fact that "atheists have NOTHING in common"!

Fearless Leader Los Angeles Brights!

We had a load of fun on July 4, INDIVISIBLE DAY when we joined forces with San Fernando Valley Atheists United and gave away 1100 apple pies near the Santa Monica Pier to remind one an all that "being an atheist is as American as Apple Pie"
"Being obese is as American as Apple Pie" which was also being shared when we were bored!

There's a slide show on the meetup site, enjoy and stay Bright!

Heather Annastasia said...

Tom Clark,

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.


I know what you mean, but I don't suppose that someone who claims to be a Bright is necessarily claiming to be super-intelligent any more than someone who says they're gay is claiming to be happy or festive.

It's a positive word though.

As for the "for us or against us" mentality, we all like to win people over to our own way of thinking, but we should always try even harder not to make enemies of people who don't agree with us.


Sounds like you had fun on the 4th. Is there a meetup group in San Diego? I'd like to meet some local Brights with kids.

0FfeS said...

Hi Heather,

I'm a Bright too!, thanks for making me aware of that.

See how the number of viewers is growing?

Heather Annastasia said...


Thanks for the support. :)

If I want more viewers, I really to put up more posts, but some days I'm lucky if I have a chance to sit down and think, let alone write.

Thanks for stopping by!

David said...

Brights & supers sounds like something out of a marvel comic thats plastered across my children's underoos. I love Dawkins, but with this one I am going to to have to respectively disagree. I like the word Atheist its strong and it takes a person of indomitable character to utter it in public! I also like the word liberal for the very same reason. As for the mythically challenged monkeys one word best defines who and what they are....Schmucks.

Heather Annastasia said...

I should clarify the issue of Dawkins; he mentions Brights in his books, and he's registered as a Bright, but it's not his idea. He's interested is seeing if this deliberate "re branding" works, but he's not really pushing it or anything.

I think the "Supers" term is kind of odd, but I mentioned it because some people automatically assume we would call religious people "dims," which we might, but that's not the official term the group has chosen.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not shy about calling myself an atheist or a liberal, but I want to try out this bright thing and see how it goes over. It may be easier to talk to people about what I believe if they can't immediately hide behind their preconceived notions.

frish said...

Yes, the very term "bright" makes some bristle.

Atheists however only share a non-belief.

Brights have a worldview that we can point to.

Plus, my contention is that "supers" are born with the need to seek a higher power.

Just because they are wrong, doesn't make them any smarter or dumber than anyone else.

Their view is built in, therefore, unchangeable and, we ought not call them "dim"!!!

nunya said...

Ahh, not just the species, the planet's species. You might like this, I got it at the library.

Heather Annastasia said...

Atheists however only share a non-belief.

Et tu, Frish??

Plus, my contention is that "supers" are born with the need to seek a higher power.


Their view is built in, therefore, unchangeable...

Unchangeable?? Look, I feel you, I've spoken to them, and I know they can seem unchangeable. I was one of them! I can still remember what it felt like to believe that the universe loved me... even when it seemed like no one in the world loved me, I had a god that loved me.

I'll finish my response tomorrow, it's getting late.

Gallaher said...

Just to let you know. FIG, the free inquiry group of Cincinnati, had another successful meeting July 22nd, at which were Ed and Helen Kagin, founders of Camp Quest--It's Beyond Belief.
A year or more ago, FIG devoted an entire meeting to discuss whether we should refer to ourselves as "brights." I think the consensus was: nah.

Heather Annastasia said...

Can you believe that while I was living in Ohio, I didn't know Camp Quest existed? The California camp got canceled this year on account of the fires.

So, why did your group decide not to go with "Bright"? I still haven't had a chance to try the term on for size in everyday conversation.

Anonymous said...

An interesting read,

The Biggest Swindle Ever Pulled!

by John Hoefle

Lyndon LaRouche has issued a clear warning to the pack of fools pushing the largest bank bailout in history: Don't do it, and if you do, don't expect to get away with it. There will be consequences for such treasonous stupidity, far beyond what you can imagine.

The plan, presented by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and supported by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, President George W. Bush, and a gaggle of international bankers and other idiots, would transfer most of the enormous losses incurred in the death of the global financial system, from the books of the banks to the Federal government—and the U.S. taxpayer.

This scheme is being marketed to a frightened public as a "bold" plan to "solve" the financial crisis once and for all. What it really is, is the biggest theft in history, a act of monumental stupidity which will destroy everything in its path: the economy, the nation, and the people. There is nothing good about it.
Absolute Insanity

"This is the biggest swindle ever pulled," LaRouche said. "It is absolute insanity. The public is being duped."

Virtually nothing Paulson has said is true—it is all lies designed to dupe Congress and the American people into believing that this gigantic ripoff is both necessary and in the public interest, when neither is true. The lies began well before Paulson, when we were told that finance, not production, was the road to wealth. For the past four decades, we have seen the systematic dismantling of American industry and agriculture, and the turning of our economy into a giant casino. Our banking system has been turned over to the speculators, and we have watched a relatively small portion of our population get rich—some obscenely so—while a growing portion fell into poverty, and others were pushed over the edge. Every protection put into law to stop such looting has been systematically repealed, including the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which forbade commercial banks from engaging in investment banking. Now that system has collapsed, and we are being told that the people must bail out the crooks.

The final phase of this collapse began last year, with the mythical "subprime crisis," a deliberate misnomer. Then this "subprime crisis" somehow morphed into a "credit crunch," infecting an "otherwise healthy" banking system. It was, from start to finish, a lie carefully constructed to support the ultimate demand for a bailout.

Here's what really happened, and it all starts with the banking system. The banks built up a huge derivatives bubble in the 1990s, a pyramid scheme which constantly needed more money fed into its maw to keep it going. One of the prime sources of fuel was mortgages, which were used to spawn mortgage-backed securities, and even wilder forms of casino chips like CDOs. The more mortgage money that came in, the larger the profits that could be made from speculating in the securities, yielding more money for new mortgages. It was this securities machine which drove housing prices—and the mortgages on those houses—into the stratosphere.

However, the machine worked so well that it drove housing prices beyond the reach of many Americans, so, in order to keep the mortgages flowing in, the banks began to relax loan standards, and in the end, were selling homes to people who could not afford them, just to keep the game going. It finally got to the point that prices were so high, that even with the lax lending standards, they couldn't keep the game going, and the whole house of cards collapsed. The subprime loans collapsed first because they were the shakiest, made at the top of the market, so the banks painted the subprime lenders and borrowers as the villians, as a way of covering up their own role. It was a classic "blame the little guy" scam.

Now we see Paulson asserting that the banks have been infected by this "housing crisis," and that in order to protect the American people, we must carry out the biggest bank bailout in history. But it was Paulson, a former investment banker, and his investment banking buddies and their predecessors, who created this mess in the first place, and are now demanding that they be saved from the consequences of their folly, and handing the bill to the people they have been victimizing for decades. The foxes are demanding that the chickens pay for cleaning up the blood in the chicken coop.
It Won't Work

Aside from its incredible arrogance, the plan put together by Paulson, his cronies at the Plunge Protection Team, and his Wall Street peers, is incompetent from an economic standpoint. All it really does is transfer unpayable debts from the books of the banks to the books of the government, without addressing the issue of why those claims are unpayable.

The claims are unpayable because the productive sector of the economy, the sector which ultimately pays all bills, is far too weak to carry the load, and is sinking fast. As it has for the past four decades, the U.S. economy is operating below breakeven and taking on debt to make up the difference. This growing mountain of debt was turned by accounting magic into a pile of assets, upon which the bankers leveraged an even bigger mountain of speculative bets. They lived off the income they gained from trading all this fictitious capital back and forth, until the size of their bubble could no longer be supported, and it collapsed. All Paulson's plan would do is give the bankrupt gamblers more chips with which to play, so they can do even more damage.
We Can Stop It

We have reached the point where we can no longer survive such greed and stupidity, and must fundamentally change our approach. Rather than listen to the siren call of the bankers which summons us to our doom, we must face the fact that we, as a people, have been behaving like fools. The bankers may have done this to us, but we let them, and all too often participated, greedily scraping up the crumbs which fell off their overloaded tables.

Now, watching our biggest banks report multi-billion-dollar losses every quarter, despite multi-trillion-dollar injections from the central banks, watching our leaders call for unprecedented bailouts and sacrifices, it is beginning to dawn upon us that the great economic boom was a sham, that the "fundamentally sound" system was an illusion, and that the whole house of cards has collapsed. It is dawning on us that we were fools, that the world does not work they way we thought.

Fortunately, we have among us a man who saw these errors as they were being made, and who has a plan to solve the problem, even at this late date. That man is Lyndon LaRouche, and his solution begins with a return to the sound economic principles that have worked so well for America in the past, most recently with President Franklin Roosevelt. Rather than saving the paper, as Paulson would have us do, LaRouche's proposal is to put the financial system through the equivalent of a bankruptcy proceeding, freezing the giant mass of speculative bets while stopping foreclosures and making sure that the goods and services necessary for human existence continue to flow. At the same time, low-interest government credit would be used in an emergency program to rebuild our productive base, all coordinated with keystone nations like Russia, China, and India, as a way of pulling the entire world up out of this looming new Dark Age. It can be done, but we must do it.

First, we must stop this crazy bailout scheme, which LaRouche has characterized as "tantamount to treason" for the destruction it will visit upon our nation and its people. But LaRouche also has a warning for those who sponsor it, and for those who vote for it. As the magnitude of the theft you support becomes more apparent, there will be new governments, prodded by a furious people, who will demand that this theft be reversed, and that the perpetrators of this crime be punished. Great crimes are not always punished right away, but history has a way of settling the score. There are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.