Worlds of Their Own

A Brief History of Misguided Ideas: Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair

by Robert J. Schadewald



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 2/15/2008

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 272
ISBN : 9781436304344
Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 272
ISBN : 9781436304351
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 272
ISBN : 9781462810031

About the Book

History is written by the winners; including the histories of science and scholarship. Unorthodoxies that flourish at the grassroots are often beneath the contempt of historians. Zetetic astronomy (flat-Earth science) was a household term in Victorian England, but not a single reference to it is found in conventional histories. We ignore such histories at our peril; the modern “intelligent design” movement is almost a carbon copy of the 19th century flat-Earth movement in its argumentative techniques.

When orthodox science finds itself stumped, or a certain segment finds it unpalatable, the unorthodox may rush in to fill the void. The past two decades have brought a surge of interest in the history and philosophy of science. But how do we discern between pseudo and actual science? To fully understand what science is, we must understand what science is not. Written with penetrating insight into the minds of alternative thinkers, this book throws light on the differences between pseudo and actual science. The droll humor that permeates Worlds of Their Own makes it as enjoyable a read as it is enlightening.

Despite its focus on unorthodox ideas, Worlds of Their Own is about human nature. Whether they drew their ideas from the Bible or nature, all the pseudoscientists discussed in this book were driven to communicate their “truth” to the misinformed world. None was afflicted with self-doubt. All defended their “truth” with similar standards of evidence, modes of reasoning, and methods of scholarship. Their counterparts are legion — the blue-collar philosopher who refutes Einstein from his barstool, the preacher who refutes (but cannot define) evolution from his pulpit, the narcissist who promotes quackery courtesy of modern talk shows and infomercials. Each topic discussed in Worlds of Their Own covers a once-popular concept that persists to this day.

Numerous works examine or debunk pseudoscientific ideas. Worlds of Their Own is unique in letting unorthodox thinkers speak for themselves. Readers will want to buy the book to learn how such people argued their cases against conventional views.
Worlds of Their Own is a timeless book offering humor, substance, and analysis for a mainstream audience. Moreover, it is a unique source book on unorthodox ideas that nearly everyone has heard about but few fully understand. And the source material is rare. For example, the National Union Catalog lists only four U.S. libraries — the Library of Congress, New York Public, Yale, and Duke — that hold Carpenter´s One Hundred Proofs That the Earth Is Not a Globe (1885). Bob’s own extensive collection of flat-Earth literature as well as his collection of literature advocating various other unorthodoxies was donated to the University of Wisconsin after his death. It is housed there 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.

Praise for Bob Schadewald:
“Perhaps the most important thing that Bob taught me has to do with the striking insights one can gain by first studying the history of one particular kind of crackpot science — for example, the flat-Earth movement in past centuries — and then realizing how reliable that knowledge can be for gaining insight into a seemingly unrelated pseudoscience of more contemporary times — for example, the creation science movement that flourished in Iowa and across the country in recent decades, and is now returning as intelligent design today.
Nobody, but nobody could make the case for this more convincingly than Bob Schadewald, and Lois has included some of Bob’s best material — doing so between the covers of Worlds of Their Own.”

John W. Patterson.emeritus
Materials Science & Engineering,
Iowa State University

“Bob Schadewald was an insightful thinker w

About the Author