June 26, 2006

Nomenclature of the godless [corrected]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at June 26, 2006 8:13 PM

There's been some recent discussion on various blogs of the notion that the term "Brights" be used to describe atheists, agnostics, etc. This was coined by Daniel Dennett Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell, and promoted by Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins, among others. I was going to write a post about how lame this is, but Kieran Healy already said it a while ago.

The problem isn't that "Bright" is arrogant, but that it's really dorky. Kieran is put in mind of the Comic Book Guy but I think a more apt Simpsons reference is to Martin Prince. There's a kind of earnest, optimistic cluelessness about the idea that's just asking to get beaten up by Nelson. I'm with PZ Myers, who is just fine with "atheist". Even if it is associated with some particular obnoxious individuals, "atheist" has force and seriousness that "Bright" is sorely lacking.

Tags: Atheism

Brandon and I recently asked Nick if there was a derogatory term that homosexuals used for straight people.

The answer? "Breeders".

Posted by: Josh | June 26, 2006 8:48 PM

Dennett did not coin the term.

Posted by: onymous | June 26, 2006 9:26 PM

Josh: I'd heard "breeders" before. Also used by militant childfree types. (And, of course, applied to Kim Deal, but it's not derogatory in that case.)

onymous: Oops, I thought he had but meant to check that before I posted it. Where did it come from?

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | June 26, 2006 10:13 PM

Heterosexuals certainly do have a tendency to propagate. (Sex is hereditary. If your parents never had it, then chances are you won't either.)

I find the term "Brights" to be obnoxious. Atheist describes me accurately and if some people are turned off by my proudly labeling myself as such, that's just too bad.

In terms of association with particularly obnoxious individuals, that's also true of Catholicism, etc. There's no need for them to spoil our opinion of anybody else. (We can work on frying specific targets instead. I'll play as Mr. Game & Watch!)

Posted by: Mason | June 26, 2006 10:16 PM

I believe the term 'bright' was coined by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell.

Posted by: onymous | June 26, 2006 10:44 PM

Anyone know why this is coming up again? Both Kieran and PZ were just reposting old material (PZ's I'd seen the first time around). If it's really all because of one comment on a previous Pharyngula thread, that's pretty impressive topic propagation (AG is the third non-Pharyngula blog I've seen writing about this). :-)

If we're looking for Simpsons analogies, I'd probably go with Milhouse. It's just that dorky.

Posted by: Justin | June 27, 2006 1:31 AM

Weren't "brights" little mystical characters in "Princess Mononoke?". (Sorry if the spelling is lame but it's the cocktail hour in Tuscany.)

Posted by: JSpur | June 27, 2006 9:40 AM

Aside from sounding dorky and insulting to "non-Brights," or whatever term they use, it feels as though the Brights are trying to make a religion of not having a religion. Their website (which is alarmingly bright and light in color) looks like a parody of a religious or New Age-spiritual site. Their self-description of "a person who has a naturalistic worldview" is frustratingly vague.

Posted by: Jolene | June 27, 2006 11:52 AM

JSpur - Well played. You're thinking of "Kodama" though. Obviously you need a thorough reviewing of your Miyazaki!

Posted by: Josh | June 28, 2006 10:26 PM
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