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Bright Young Things

Your Humble Blogger is no Bright himself, but I do like the idea of Brights.

I read an op-ed column by Daniel Dennett in this morning's New York Times about The Brights, who are trying to get the use of the term Bright into the general vocabulary.

What’s a Bright, you ask? Well, now they’ve got you, haven’t they? That’s the first step to accepting the word exists.

A Bright is a person whose worldview is naturalistic. That is, a person who doesn’t believe in the supernatural of any kind, neither ghosts nor gods nor ... some third thing that begins with a hard g and is supernatural. Gremlins? Gurus? Gregory the Great? Glossolalia? Graven Images? Yes, I’ll go with that. Neither ghosts nor gods nor graven images.

Actually, it’s a disservice to define a Bright by what he (or she) doesn’t believe, rather than any positive thing. A Bright believes that the world is, essentially, measurable, in theory if not in practice.

My Gentle Readers know by now that I am no Bright. Why, then, do I draw your attention to them? Because I like the idea of having a positively-oriented term for Brights, and I like the idea of Brights being a part of our culture (as in fact they are), and I like the idea of using language as a tool of cultural goals. I find the whole thing fascinating, and I hope it succeeds. I charge you all, therefore, to use the term yourself this week. If you are a Bright, say so. If you have a friend or relation who is a Bright, tell that Bright what a Bright is. Work the term in to conversation, as in “I’m no Bright, but I don’t believe in guardian angels,” or “They kill Brights in the Sudan,” or “You can’t be a Bright and a Red Sox fan.” It’s easy! And be sure to let me know how it works.

Redintegro Iraq,


what's everybody else? "dims"?

that there's some fine PR, ma.

Well, to quote Michael Palin (and Terry Jones, who helped write it): "There are Jews in the world/there are Buddhists/There are Hindus and Mormons and then/There are those that follow Mohammed" and, y'know, Brights. Oh, and Christians. It helps to have a name.

Redintegro Iraq,

I don't know why folks of this intellectual persuasion would rather be called Brights than what they've usually been called or called themselves: Rationalists, based on positive belief, Atheists, on negative belief. Bright, aside from suggesting that everyone else is dim, sounds like a new brand of laundry detergent . . .

Sounds like humanists/rationalists/objectivists, to me. With a better marketing strategy...

yeah, right, humanists are slackers drinking sludge at a ratty coffee house; brights share soy lattes at starbucks.

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