Following is a summary of some of the interesting, entertaining and sometimes scary characters you will meet in Worlds of Their Own.
One Mans Collision with Science: the Velikovsky Affair
Did Venus become a planet by being shot out as a comet from Jupiter? The story is told allegorically by the myth of Athena springing from the head of Zeus. Was the manna that sustained the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the desert actually hydrocarbons shed by the tail of a comet?
These are two of Immanuel Velikovskys conclusions from his study of the Bible, myths and other ancient documents. These ideas were introduced to the public most effectively in his book Worlds in Collision
, which was published in 1950.
Bob Schadewald interviewed Velikovsky six days prior to his death on November 17, 1979. The 30-year anniversary of the publication of Worlds in Collision
was approaching and Bob thought it would be nice to have a record of Velikovskys views after the passage of that amount of time. His followers were not pleased that Bob did the last interview. This interview was first published in FATE, May 1980.
The Perpetual Delusion: the Belief in Perpetual Motion
The Schadewald Gravity Engine describes how Bob had invented a machine that would solve the worlds energy problems in a cheap, nonpolluting manner. He selflessly gave it over to the public domain in an article published on April 1st, April Fool's Day! But still, there were believers.
Bob was recognized as an expert on perpetual motion schemes. He covered the laws of thermodynamics in The Idea of a Free Lunch and how the laws are used to classify the type of perpetual motion machine. He also showed how some scams, while not immediately obvious, fall into the classification of perpetual motion.
Throughout this section of the book, Bob provides several character sketches of perpetual motionists; they are characters! From Arnold Burkes spiritual healing of his blind eye, to Joseph Newmans call for the impeachment of then President Ronald Reagan, we get the idea that these guys arent your average Joes.
Its a Small Flat World: the Continuing Belief in a Flat Earth
Flat Earthism was by far Bobs favorite topic. Its a Small Flat World covers the history of Flat Earthism beginning with the Babylonians and ending with Charles Johnson, president of the International Flat Earth Research Society (IFERS) from the mid 1970s until his death in 2002.
In Worlds of Their Own, Bob introduces us to another cast of characters who are a little bit bent. The affection Bob feels for these people is obvious in his writing.
We are introduced to Samuel Birley Rowbotham who, when hes not lecturing for the Flat Earth, is peddling "Dr. Birleys Syrup of Free Phosphorous."
Rowbotham's contemporary, to become his successor, is Lady Elizabeth Anne Mould Blount, who practices her creative talents by composing such musical pieces as "The Earth Not a Globe Waltz" and "The Nebular Hypothesis."
We also are told the story of John Hampden, who in 1878 offered a financial prize to anyone who could prove to him that the Earth is a globe.
Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwins contemporary, rose to the challenge, but there was to be a slight difference of opinion as to the outcome of the demonstration.
As we move into the 20th century, it doesnt get any saner.
Wilbur Glenn Voliva presides over a theocracy in Zion, Illinois, where every school child is taught the Earth is flat.
The most recent flat Earther Bob writes of is Charles Johnson, the president of IFERS and Bobs personal friend. Bob remarked on Johnsons great sense of humor and the amount of laughter on the tapes of his interviews with Johnson.
Lying For God: The Truth About Creationism
Bob Schadewald made a clear distinction between creation "scientists" and other religionists. He writes, "Most religious people see no conflict between their faith and the findings of science. Educated Christians, Jews, and Muslims typically believe that evolution was Gods method of creation, and some of them therefore call themselves 'creationists.' Its not of them that I speak."
However, Bob spoke out quite a bit on "Scientific Creationism" the forerunner of the current "Intelligent Design" movement. Bob attended at least a dozen Creationism conferences throughout the 1980s and 1990s and was a major player in the defense of teaching Darwinian evolution in public schools.
In "Lying for God" Bob draws on his own experiences, as well as on debates, and excerpts from Creationist literature to make his points. Bob takes us through some fairly dense argumentation here but never loses his dry sense of humor or his gift for wry observation. Misusing quotes to bolster their position, using false reasoning, using selective data, and deliberately misrepresenting the data are all Creationist techniques for which Bob provides examples and explanations.
This section of Worlds of Their Own offers examples and analyses of arguments, and shows us many scam techniques and how to keep our guard up against their influence.
Buy the book.
Worlds of Their Own is available from a wide number of sources.
and it's contents are copyright 2009 Lois Schadewald.
Background and planet images courtesy of NASA