A number of people have expressed concern about the noun “bright” but they still want to be included as a Bright. You may be interested to know a bit of background on the word..
From day one (April 19, 2003), the word Bright has referred to the Enlightenment, a time when reason and science offered a hope for humanity to move toward a better world. Never have the Brights claimed superior intelligence to supers. “Bright” refers to a worldview, not to the intelligence of individuals who hold that worldview.
The antonym of bright is not dim. The contrast is brights and supers (Daniel Dennett's suggestion in "Breaking the Spell").
The word Bright continues to give us media and Internet exposure as few other words would do. One can Google ---Brights Net--- and we are first on their listing, with over 95,000 references to the website. . Change the name – lose the contacts.
Even so, we are not opposed to a change. After all, the Brights’ Net’s concept is what is important, not the vocabulary — individuals with a naturalistic worldview working together for social and civic change. Regarding the charge of arrogance, read on for some other views from the Brights:
Ravi: “The criticism that comes up again and again is on the meaning of 'bright' that means intelligent. I can see the force of the objection, but I doubt it is as bad as it is made out to be. Most religions allow their leaders to pass off with ludicrous titles like 'Honorable', 'Venerable', 'Worship', 'Holiness', 'Grace', ‘Your Eminence’, ‘Most Reverent’, and other such nonsense. It seems that we are so used to this kind of prattle that we no longer even notice it. 'Brights' goes nowhere as far. So what is the problem?”
Paul (Brights Co-Director): “If you think “Bright” carries a lot of semantic baggage, please consider the cornucopia of secondary meanings given by society to the words atheist, agnostic, freethinker, and secular humanist. Such terms carry eons of baggage and multiple meanings that cannot be shed. In addition, worse, think of the negative meaning associated with what religionists use to refer to the community of reason: godless, irreligious, nonbelievers. The movement needed clean and neat new words that represent those who have a naturalistic worldview. I believe the word will become a part of the standard lexicon, in a manner similar to gay.”
Colin: "I have come all the way from "What a stupid idea" to my present thoughts that Bright is a very good idea …. So one can change in spite of my 75 years!!"
Ken: “I wanted to let you know that as I've spent time with that topic my interest has shifted to the main idea, the movement itself, and my appreciation for that has grown. I love the simplicity and clarity of the definition ("naturalistic worldview") and the structure (no bureaucracy or authoritarian rules). You've designed it to utilize perfectly its main means of propagation, the internet. I believe its simplicity and lightness will help it spread and become established.”
Michael Shermer (who writes the skeptics column in Scientific American) conducted a series of skeptic focus groups on the subject of the name “Bright” (the Brights are Chapter 2 in his book Science Friction). Although the term admittedly did not fare well, no one has come up with a better word — yet. As Michael writes, “all things considered, the word is Bright.” Dawkins, Dennett and many others concur.
Stranger memes than the word bright have become commonplace expressions (zine, blog, prequel, grok, and even scrooge) and are now accepted.
One thing bright does not mean -- “we are more intelligent than you.” From day one we have stated that Bright is designed to remind people of the Enlightenment - a time when reason and science were viewed as the means to a better world - and not with the intent of equating bright with intelligent. Daniel Dennett, in “Breaking the Spell” presented the appropriate contrasting terms as brights and supers.
Notice is hereby given that a human being in the real world created this noun, and as such, its imperfection is stipulated. Your suggestions on for a replacement are, as always, welcome.
P.S. The Brights' Net has registered over 41,000 individuals in 179 nations. You might be surprised at how many Brights love the word.
Regardless of the particular meaning the word may have to those who use it to describe themselves, the problem remains its most common connotation. As much as you might not mean to suggest that atheists are smarter than theists - this is the message you are sending out every time you use that word.
Now, if Brights' only mission was social interaction amongst themselves, there really isn't a problem with them calling themselves anything they want. But if the aim is to have a dialogue with theists, I think the term is self-defeating.
I had to really think about this, especially when you bring up the way the term 'gay' has evolved over time. And I think it is a great point. Nevertheless, in common parlance since 'bright' is associated with intelligence, calling oneself a 'bright' will inevitably lead to the conclusion that a bright is making a claim to a special kind of knowledge.
I don't think you can blame someone for having a visceral negative reaction to the word, I hvae the same reaction when I hear theists refer to themselves as 'saved'.
I'm with Kirsty.
No matter what we 'atheists' choose to 'mean' by the term brights, the opposition will almost always look for the 'common' antonym and retort "Aha so you think we're dim"
Now some may take this view, I don't. I think that many of our religious 'brothers and sisters' are simply misinformed.
It seems to me that we (some of us) take great pleasure in taking the academic high ground and ridicule the religious.
Look at the testimonies of the converted. A shift in mindset seems to be the answer. Education will do this, name calling will not.
Back in 2004, my comment was published about the SI article "Not Too Bright?" and I still stick to it: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2843/is_/ai_n6100534 Here's part of what I wrote, "... I awoke from a dream one morning with a word that seemed to capture what Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell were trying to capture. An impetus with the potential to carry the sublime, ephemeral sparks of nature unfolding. Ready? The word is Bloom. The Bloomers or the Blooms for short. Yes, the image of a flower. Natural. Beautiful. Humble. Bad connotations? Could it get any worse?" Then I suggested a contest. Paul Geisert wrote here, "no one has come up with anything better." I don't know if he saw my suggestion. I would love to see the rejected names. Still, all that said, I think it's probably too late at this point to change it. It might seem too much like political scrambling.
In heat. Do you think the Blooms would have had a chance? It's not too late to form another group with some slight catagorical distinctions- hey, maybe the Blooms should represent the ex-theist wing, since they bloomin' nuts to fall for it in the first place!