From the mid 1970s until his death in March 2000, Robert Schadewald studied and wrote about unorthodox ideas and the people who promote them. In the course of his search for works advocating unorthodox science or scholarship he visited 20-odd major research libraries in America (the Library of Congress, New York Public, Boston Public, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Columbia, and such) and uncounted lesser libraries. He spent a month in England working at the British Library, Cambridge University library, the Bodleian (Oxford), and about a dozen others. He also had rare works photocopied or microfilmed at numerous U.S. and foreign libraries. In so doing, Bob accumulated the world�s most extensive collection of flat-Earth literature and a personal library that included about a thousand volumes advocating that as well as various other unorthodoxies. After his death, his collection was donated to the University of Wisconsin where the best of his library is now housed as the Robert Schadewald Collection on Pseudo-Science. This collection consists of 885 books and pamphlets (many from the 19th century) as well as 70 boxes of personal files and collected news clippings.
Bob contributed dozens of articles to major magazines, including Science 80, Technology Illustrated, Smithsonian, and Science Digest. He authored one book, The dBASE II Guide for Small Business and contributed chapters to six others. Much of Bob�s published work deals with unorthodoxies of science. He attended seven national creationism conferences, interviewed Immanuel Velikovsky, investigated perpetual motion machines, and was thrown out of the Flat Earth Society for having spherical tendencies. Bob was nationally recognized as an expert on creationism, perpetual motion, and flat Earthism. As an authority on unorthodox ideas, Bob was featured on radio or television talk shows in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. He also lectured on various aspects of unorthodoxy at the University of Minnesota, State Cloud State University, Iowa State University, and Macalester College.
By profession, Bob was a contract technical writer. However, his most passionate avocation (since the mid-1980s) was taking on an active role in the effort to keep �creation science,� a thinly disguised religious doctrine, out of public school science classrooms. In 1986, Bob was elected to the board of directors of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation headquartered in Berkeley, California. NCSE runs several programs to improve education in evolution and the nature of science. In January 1991, Bob was elected president � he served as president for two years, but remained active with NCSE through his writings, consultations and collaboration until his death. My journey through Worlds of Their Own Lois Schadewald, Editor
About a year after my brother�s (Robert Schadewald�s) death (which occurred on March 12, 2000) my sister-in-law Wendy Schadewald suggested to me that I compile a collection of Bob�s writings for publication. At first, I resisted the idea. However, on consideration, I changed my mind. I felt that my brother�s work deserved to be made available and if not through me, then who? I doubted, though, that I was up to the task. I didn�t know how to start. So, I dawdled!
When, during the 2003-04 school year, an opportunity arose for me to take a sabbatical from my work teaching chemistry at Normandale Community College (Bloomington, MN), I saw another opportunity as well � the time to focus on such a project and figure out how to go about it. So, that is what I applied for, and I am very grateful and thankful that my proposal was accepted. If it weren�t for this gift of time, I seriously doubt that I could have been successful with this project.
In the fall of 2003, I began going through my brother�s works (on computer, in notes, and in publications) and compiling and classifying them. During this same time I began attending conferences, lectures, and other events that were aligned with Bob�s interests and, as such, often had some of Bob�s friends and colleagues in attendance. One of these was a CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) conference that took place in Albuquerque, NM in October, 2003. I wanted to gain a deeper perspective for understanding Bob�s writings and to gain insights into my brother�s life and the interests that were so important to him. Jack and Shirley Patterson accompanied me to this convention and introduced me to many of Bob�s friends, including Don Simanek, a presenter at the convention. Eugenie Scott was also a presenter at this convention. These were four of Bob�s best friends.
So, my attack was two pronged: choose from the copious material that was available to me of Bob�s work that which I would include in this collection, and talk with Bob�s friends to learn more about his life and his involvement in the skeptical movement. During the fall of 2003, I also met James Randi who was giving a lecture in Cedar Rapids, IA. Meeting Randi led me to the discovery of JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) which, in turn, led me to attend TAM2 (The Amaz!ng Meeting 2) the following January in Las Vegas. I�ve attended each of the subsequent TAM conferences. In so doing, I learned about the skeptical movement � and found that I liked it! I enjoyed learning about the hoaxes that have been perpetrated in the past and those that exist currently, about urban myths, and about the threat to science education from the intelligent design movement.
I attended State Legislative hearings on the Science Standards for high school curriculum in MN at the beginning of 2004. In the spring of 2004, I attended the Nobel Conference, held each year at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, which happened to be on the subject of evolution that year! I learned a lot of the backdrop of Bob�s interests � it was fascinating.
I spent the next two years deciding what I wanted to include in this book, soliciting input and assistance from my brother�s friends and colleagues, putting it all together and trying to get published.
I would guess that I picked about a tenth of the material, that I had access to of Bob�s work, to include in this book. My reasoning for the material that I chose is (frankly) personal. It�s not that I thought this was the best of the best. That�s too personal, as I would never be able to decide on the best from Bob�s writings; it is all the best to me. It is more that I felt this collection fits together in that the topics reflect a timeline of Bob�s interests. Another element that links the topics I chose is that each pseudoscience he discusses in this collection has, at its core, a reliance on the Bible as a scientific work. This statement may be a little stretch for the Perpetual Delusion section which overviews perpetual motion (generating energy from nothing) schemes throughout history until the late 1970s. However, at least one perpetual motionist that Bob discusses did use the Bible as evidence for the veracity of his claims.
I found a local publisher for this book in the fall of 2005. We spent about a year and a half working together on the book. It was offered for sale through Amazon and others as Worlds of Their Own: Insights into PseudoScience from Creationism to The End Times. Unfortunately, the book was never printed through this publisher.
When my contract with this publisher was over, I went through some indecision on how to proceed, but ultimately decided to publish the book using Xlibris. The book is now available with the new title, Worlds of Their Own, �A Brief History of Misguided Ideas: Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair.�
Thank you very kindly to everyone who has taken a part in the production of this book. I appreciate it beyond what I can express in words.
(Note: If you ordered Worlds of Their Own: Insights into PseudoScience from Creationism to The End Times through the SangFroid website, please contact me with that information and I will send you a copy of the book under its new title.)