Put briefly, High Plains Skeptic is a place for people attracted to what might best be described as a digital menagerie of nonfiction essays. It is a place for people enthusiastic about science, politics, and art. Ideally, it should be a forum for discourse – a place for people to engage in civil debate as a celebration of Enlightenment ideals. Topics tend to focus on science and politics, but there is also plenty of space dedicated to more important matters: space ships, science fiction movies, westerns, TV shows, and so forth.
Less succinctly, this is a blog about whatever strikes my fancy. It is, as the subtitle explicitly states, about science, culture, politics and art. Culture is a somewhat amorphous catch-all term for what humans do. In that sense its inclusion is a redundancy – science, politics, and art are all cultural practices. Science, then, is a culturally derived – but empirically proven – way of illuminating the machinery that drives the universe. Though its fruits are but approximations of reality, it seems abundantly clear that it is the only way of getting even close to actually “knowing” how anything works. My impetus for writing about science comes from a healthy sense of curiosity and the recognition that the best tools for investigating the way the world works are found in science. Politics is just what it seems. Certainly it can be thought of in an abstract sense of being about the way people organize themselves in social groups – that is, the way people attempt to govern patterns of conflict and cooperation both within and between groups. But for the most part, I’ll be dealing with politics in terms of the ridiculous circus that is American politics. Here, my incentives flow from being a political junkie. When it comes to politics, I’m more of an addict than an activist. Relative to the arts, my motivations are simple: I like to read books, watch movies, and listen to music. Sometimes I’ll want to write about those things.
Some might bemoan such a broad scope of interest. This is understandable. After all, a jack of all trades is (usually) a master of none. But the point here is not to illustrate my mastery over this or that subject. Rather, it is to put forth a personal perspective on the way the world is and, where the impulse strikes me, the way I think the world ought to be. That is not to say there aren’t areas where my particular expertise might yield insights. As an anthropology graduate student specializing in Darwinian explanations of human behavior, I have a better understanding of some things than others. I imagine this will become apparent as I accumulate more and more posts on a wider and wider variety of topics. That said, I will endeavor to do my homework on everything I post about. After all, this is the home of the High Plains Skeptic. If I can’t support my claims with some kind of evidence, I’m not doing a very good job of earning the moniker.
Ultimately, this blog is more about entertainment than edification. It would be fantastic if someone were to read a post and come away with a new, more enlightened perspective on this or that subject. If someone learns something new about the world or has a long held belief challenged, I will find that result immensely gratifying. But the point of this is to provide a bit of (hopefully positive) mental stimulation for myself and anyone gracious enough to read my posts.
A Word On Geography
I do not actually reside in the geographic region known as the high plains. True, I reside at the edge of a rather large plain, but both geographically and ecologically speaking the area is best described as high desert or desert steppe. The name High Plains Skeptic is a poorly cloaked allusion to the Clint Eastwood film, High Plains Drifter.