Lois Schadewald’s interest in both science and pseudoscience rubbed off on her from her brilliant brother Robert J. Schadewald, a prolific author and debater. When Bob died a decade ago he left behind a legacy of published essays and book chapters, as well as much unpublished material including a complete manuscript on the history of the Flat Earth movement. Lois has seen to the publication of many of these pieces in the collection Worlds of their Own: A Brief History of Misguided Ideas; Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Robert M. Price asks Lois to outline some of her brother’s research in Flat Earth and Hollow Earth “science” as well as to relate some stories of his association with important “alternative science” figures like catastrophist Immanuel Velikovsky. Schadewald talks some about her brother’s unique approach to dealing with promoters of pseudoscience, and what he gained from it. She discusses the timeline of Bob’s research interests and how he eventually made his way to studying creationism.
Lois Schadewald is Professor of Chemistry at Normandale Community College in Minnesota, where she is also active with the Minnesota Atheists.
Robert J. Schadewald (1943-2000) was a widely published science writer. His articles dealing with unorthodoxies of science and scholarship appeared in Science 80, Smithsonian, Technology Illustrated, and Skeptical Inquirer among others. He was a contributing author to six books, including The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: An Encyclopedia (Garland Publishing, 2000). From 1986 until the mid-1990s, he served on the board of directors of the National Center for Science Education, including two years as president. 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.