Talk:Isaac Newton

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Regarding "Newton was a devout Christian who said his discoveries were inspired by God"

I am not changing anything yet, but my (christian) science book says that Newton had a firm belief in God, but denied the Trinity, and the Deity of Christ. Not exactly the beliefs of a "devout Christian" --TimSvendsen 20:41, 6 March 2007 (EST)

That's a big surprise to me. My understanding is that Newton was a Christian who relied on the Bible daily.--Aschlafly 21:05, 6 March 2007 (EST)
Relied on the Bible daily? yes. Accepted the Trinity? Definitely not. Whether that makes him a "devout Christian" is presumably therefore very much a defintional issue of how you define Christian. JoshuaZ 21:08, 6 March 2007 (EST)
Well, we don't need to take sides on that matter. We can just report his beliefs and leave it at that; readers can decide for themselves whether he's Christian by their own standards. Tsumetai 21:11, 6 March 2007 (EST)

Newton and Falsification

I’ve added the following paragraph (or a version of it) at the end of this article a number of times:

Newton’s Laws stood as “laws” for years after his death, but in 1816 the discovery of Mercury’s anomalous perihelion provided evidence that Newton’s laws did not always correctly predict behavior in the observed, external, world. [1] It was not until 1919, however, that a series of experiments designed to test General Relativity provided the scientific community with enough evidence to replace those laws. [2] Once a theory could better predict the external world than Newton’s Laws, they were fully falsified and replaced as the dominant theory in physics. [3]

The first time it was deleted because I had not sourced it correctly, which is fine. So I sourced it properly and it stood for awhile. Then part of it was deleted because it was to quote the editing comment “Heresy” and “unintelligible”. Since I figured heresy was a bad reason to delete information, especially when properly sourced, I tried to make my comments more intelligible and replaced them. Then part of it was deleted—I am informed because the 1919 experiments have been discredited. But, after researching the matter, I can find no evidence to support this claim (That, of course, doesn’t mean that the evidence doesn’t exist—just that I can’t find it). Even if, however, the 1919 experiments have been discredited that is not, especially relevant to this article, as the 1919 experiments are only important as a turning point in scientific opinion about Newton’s Laws—in particular it marks the date a theory was better able to predict new information than Newton’s Laws could—since then numerous experiments have supported general relativity (though if past is prologue it will soon be on the way out in favor of a better theory itself) but here the only important thing is that it seems to predict better than Newton’s Laws predict and I think it belongs here. However, before I could post this discussion a third contributor deleted the remainder of my paragraph, with only the comment “1816 observation did not falsify Newton”. I’ve linked to two reputable sources for this point, including Dr. Hilary Putnam—second only to Popper himself in the field of philosophy of science—on this point. Whereas the person who deleted the 1816 claim did not provide any evidence to support this deletion—nor can I find any (again, it may be out there, but I can’t find it).

For those reasons, I believe this information belongs in the article—but since it has been repeatedly deleted I’ve chosen to put it on the talk page for now. Can anyone cite a reason to believe this paragraph is false, or explain why it does not belong here? Or can anyone cite to more reputable sources to bolster this paragraph? Or can anyone offer suggested changes that would make it palatable to all parties to this debate?

I do think that it is pretty absurd to say that some 1816 observation of Mercury falsified Newton. It is true that there was no good explanation for Mercury’s anomalous perihelion, but there were possible explanations that did not involve changing Newton's law of gravity.
I also don't think that a 20th century philosopher is a reliable source on this point. If an 1816 observation really falsified Newton, then there should have been physicists in 1817 saying that the observation proves that they should all stop relying on Newton's laws. There weren't then, and there aren't now. Newton's laws are still useful and have not been "fully falsified".
Yes, General Relativity has superceded Newtonian gravitation, but the 1919 observations did not provide the necessary evidence. The 1919 observation was sold as proof to the public at the time, but was actually inconclusive.
On another topic, why is Newton called "Sir"? I wouldn't think that a conservative American encyclopedia would respect some silly British nobility title. RSchlafly 16:21, 11 March 2007 (EDT)
If you read the Putnam (who I find to be an incredibly reliable source when it comes to the history of science, as his job is to study the history of science and draw well reasoned conclusions based on that history, and as he is highly regarded in his field –which he would not be if he made basic errors)article you will see that you are making the exact same point he is—only he draws a different, and, I think, better grounded conclusion. Science is not a monolithic beast, and it does not move quickly. That is why, though the 1816 observations falsified Newton’s Laws (and remember one wrong prediction means the whole theory is falsified and a new theory must be sought to replace it), science was slow to react. Further, Newton’s Laws still were better predictors than any other theory (until relativity hit the scene in 1919) so they were still used—and in fact are still used as they generate the right result for the objects big enough to see on the surface of the earth moving at a speed we can see them—but that does not mean that the laws were not falsified, just that they are still useful.
Of course if you have a better date for when relativity superseded Newton’s laws that is what you ought to add to the article rather than deleting information and replacing it with nothing (For if Newton’s laws were superseded, then they were falsified, and that information belongs in the article). I still have seen no evidence, however, offered that the 1919 experiments were flawed (again, I’m open to the idea that they may be flawed, but would like some evidence of that—especially since I have evidence to the contrary).--Reginod 22:40, 11 March 2007 (EDT)
Putnam is entitled to his opinions, but I just don't see how an 1816 anomaly could have falsified Newtonian gravity. There were other possible explanations for that anomaly, such as an unknown asteroid or an oblateness of the Sun. Those explanations might not have required any change to Newtonian gravity.
Here is a good account of the 1919 eclipse. [4] It says of Eddington's announcement:
The reaction from scientists at this special meeting was ambivalent. Some questioned the reliability of statistical evidence from such a small number of stars. This skepticism seems in retrospect to be entirely justified. Although the results from Sobral were consistent with Einstein’s prediction, Eddington had been careful to remove from the analysis all measurements taken with the main equipment, the astrographic telescope and used only the results from the 4-inch. As I have explained, there were good grounds for this because of problems with the focus of the larger instrument. On the other hand, these plates yielded a value for the deflection of 0.93 seconds of arc, very close to the Newtonian prediction. Some suspected Eddington of cooking the books by leaving these measurements out.
At any rate, this is an article on Newton, not relativity or philosophy. The exact date in which physicists became convinced of a non-Newtonian explanation for Mercury's precession doesn't seem very relevant to me. RSchlafly 02:34, 12 March 2007 (EDT)
Thank you for the link, it is most informative (I've not had a chance to read it fully but so far quite informative) but your second point is, I think spot on, I hadn't really realized that that was your objection. I thought the objection was to the claim that Newton's laws had been falsified, not that the exact date was off.--Reginod 11:21, 13 March 2007 (EDT)
Well, here in the USA he's respected for scientific treatments, and we're awfully glad he's been knighted but it doesn't get him called Sir Isaac in American English. --Ed Poor 20:51, 1 April 2007 (EDT)

Newton was never falsified. That is nonsense. His laws of motion work perfectly well for slow stuff. They work great for planets in orbit.

Einstein's work simply refined an excellent theory into a brilliant one. We can't aim a spaceship well enough to care whether we use Newton's (simple) laws or Einstein's. The matter crosses the line from engineering into theoretical physics.

Einstein's work led to atomic bomb theory and helped defeat the Japanese in WW2 - which saved a lot of Japanese lives, by the way. Let's try to get all this in perspective. --Ed Poor 20:55, 1 April 2007 (EDT)


  1. Newton’s Laws Falsified 1816[1]
  2. Newton’s Laws in 1919 [2]
  3. Putnam, Dr. Hilary. Mathematics, Matter, and Method. Cambridge University Press. 1980. Page 257 [3]

Inspired Kant

The article says:

Newton is often seen as one of the greatest scientists of all time due to his contributions, which inspired Kant to create the philosophical concepts of the categorical imperative and the synthetic a priori.

Is this a joke? What does Kant have to do with anything? Newton inspired some great science -- who cares about whatever mediocre philosophy he might have inspired? RSchlafly 02:26, 15 March 2007 (EDT)

Harsh! Not sure where you got educated, but Kant's work is a pillar of western philosophy. Argue whether it should be in the article, but you're gonna be by yourself if you want to discredit Kant's enormous contributions to philosophy. Teji 13:38, 8 June 2007 (EDT)

To "Sir" or not to "Sir"

I have copied the following conversation from RSchlafly's talk page, as I think it makes sense to have a record of it here.--Hsmom 07:50, 31 March 2007 (EDT)

I bet Isaac Newton cared about his title of "sir." Not to split hairs. Publicly evaluating a person's legacy based on your opinion of it is a bad idea, and sounds like opinion forbidden by the Commandments.-AmesG 01:02, 22 March 2007 (EDT)

Sure, Newton may have cared, in the way that people care about honorary degrees and awards. Maybe he got some privileges from it, I don't know. But nobility status carries no weight with the typical American reader of Conservapedia. Nobody knows what Newton did to get that title, or why the title should make anyone deserving of any respect. It is just stupid and meaningless.
Newton was a great man, and I am not putting him down. He is great for what he did, not because he was friends with some silly king or however he got the title. RSchlafly 01:11, 22 March 2007 (EDT)
'Sir' is a title of respect. Not placing it would be equivalent to removing Doctor from the name of those holding a doctorate. Geo. 01:13, 22 March 2007 (EDT)
It is only a title of respect among fans of British nobility. Besides, encyclopedias do not normally list people with doctorates under the title "Doctor". RSchlafly 01:43, 22 March 2007 (EDT)
Okay, can the bold text at least show that he was a peer? Geo. 01:50, 22 March 2007 (EDT)
I assume that you are joking. I don't know what a peer is, except that my dictionary says that it has something to do with British nobility. I think that the average American has very low respect for British nobility. RSchlafly 01:59, 22 March 2007 (EDT)
A Peer of the Realm is a member of the British nobility. Geo. 03:34, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
"Nobody knows what Newton did to get that title, or why the title should make anyone deserving of any respect. It is just stupid and meaningless." ... "I don't know what a peer is, except that my dictionary says that it has something to do with British nobility. I think that the average American has very low respect for British nobility." Are you serious? You don't know what Newton did that resulted in his title? I'd guess Calculus? Maybe Gravity? That deserves a heck of a lot of respect. I don't think we need to know the ins and outs of honorary titles in Britain to understand the basics of this one. According to Answers in Genesis, [5] "His country officially recognized his work in 1705 when he became the first person to receive a knighthood for scientific achievement." Surely this is important enough to include his "Sir"? --Hsmom 19:51, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Yes, I am serious. No American has any respect for British nobility titles. Apparently you don't know how Newton got the title either, because you are just guessing. You have a source that says that it was for "his work". Okay, that narrows it a little bit. It wasn't for his relatives. RSchlafly 20:06, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
I'm sorry, I think you misunderstood my comment, as you misunderstood Geo.'s use of the term "peer". I guess we need to back up a bit. In Britian, knighthoods are given for exceptional achievement or service to the nation, much like the USA gives the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Newton was the first to be made a knight for scientific achievement rather than prowess on the battlefield. (From "In 1705, Queen Anne knighted him, Sir Isaac Newton. It was the first knighthood for scientific discoveries rather than deeds on the battlefield or in government." [6]) Thus Newton was given his title for his *body of work*, which of course included topics like gravity and calculus. I understand that *you* have no respect for such awards. Indeed, there is some controversy over modern versions, even in Britian (see [7]). However, I think it's simply not true to say that *No* American has any respect for British nobility titles - see Robledo's examples below. Given that Newton's achievements were so great as to be awarded an honor that had previously been given only for military prowess, I think the "Sir" is worth keeping. --Hsmom 21:28, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

Honorary knighthoods (accepted & thus I'm guessing respected...)

  • George Bush
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Colin Powell
  • General Norman Schwarzkopf
  • Bob Hope

Any more sweepingly daft generalisations to make? :P --Robledo 20:16, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

No, you've made it for me. I've never heard any American call any of those men "sir". RSchlafly 21:01, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

Naturally....none of them are British citizens. Read the source, son....third paragraph. *sighs* --Robledo 21:26, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

That's because it is inappropriate for an American to use such a title.[8] Newton, however, was not American, thus the use of the title is appropriate. I know this stuff is complicated. --Hsmom 21:28, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Exactly. To put it in context. "Bono" will never be "Sir Bono" (aside from the fact that his real name is Paul Hewson) because he is not a British citizen. So he can never be a "Sir". However, Newton was a British citizen, or a subject of the queen (or king), if you will. So he should be referred to by his correct title. Airdish 21:33, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
It's a simple matter of respect. "Sir" is his title in his native country and therefore should be the title that he is addressed by whenever he is addressed, wherever he is addressed. Aside from that argument, he is known the world over as "Sir Isaac Newton".Airdish 21:08, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

My students are fond of this song about Sir Issac - it's in MP3 format. [9]--Hsmom 21:32, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

I see that someone put "Sir" back in. I disagree with this. In the USA, he is primarily known as Isaac Newton, not Sir Isaac Newton. Even assuming that he was knighted based on the merits of his scientific work, it is no more significant that an honorary degree or receiving some academic prize. No more significant to anyone outside of England, anyway. You wouldn't call someone "doctor" just because he got an honorary degree, and no American would call someone "sir" just because some king gave him some sort of honor. RSchlafly 20:38, 1 April 2007 (EDT)

My my, you disagree with a lot of things. Also, knighthoods are different, and especially back then. I call Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton, because he earned it, and he would have wanted himself called that, and we should defer to that as a means of respect-AmesGyo! 20:43, 1 April 2007 (EDT)
I've always refered to him and known him as Sir Isaac Newton, but silly me, I got that from all my physics text books here in America. Jrssr5 11:18, 30 April 2007 (EDT)
I note that we call Margaret Thatcher 'Lady' Thatcher in more than one article. Does the 'American's aren't interested in British nobility' rule not apply to the good Baroness then? Newton provided every bit as much service to science as Thatcher did to politics, and arguably had a longer-lasting influence. I say give him his 'Sir'.--Britinme 22:02, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

Having not read this discussion (until now), I changed it to "Sir Isaac Newton" in the first sentence, only to have RSchafly revert it without explanation. However, I continue to believe that the first reference should be to "Sir Isaac Newton". What weight Americans give to British titles is irrelevant, if only because Conservapedia is not (any longer) as exclusively American as it was, such as dropping the requirement for American spelling. And this is a similar issue. If articles on British/Australia/etc. topics are appropriately spelt using British/Australian/etc. spelling, then articles on British people should use their British titles.

Unless someone offers a good rebuttal to that, I will reinstate the knighthood title.

Philip J. Rayment 22:08, 5 July 2007 (EDT)

The article already says Newton got knighted. The title is meaningless to anyone outside England. Newton is in CP for his scientific and mathematical accomplishments, not for holding some silly title. To put "Sir" on his name would be like putting "Herr Doctor Professor" on the names of German scientists. Actually it would be worse. Please don't put "Sir" back in. You can boldface the name if you wish. RSchlafly 22:28, 5 July 2007 (EDT)
The title is meaningless to anyone outside England. I disagree; lots of educated people around the world understand such titles. Newton is in CP for his scientific and mathematical accomplishments, not for holding some silly title. Why is the title silly? If I had done the work he did, I'd be quite happy to be honored in that way, especially if no one before me had been honored for scientific/mathematical work. It must have been a huge honor for him. --Hsmom 23:03, 5 July 2007 (EDT)

I'm outside England, and it's not meaningless to me. It's not like putting "Herr Doctor Professor" on a name; it's like putting "Dr." or "Rev." on a name. Philip J. Rayment 00:09, 6 July 2007 (EDT)
Thomas Jefferson referred to Sir Isaac Newton by his title, in a letter written on February 25, 1809 to the French author Monsieur Gregoire (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (H. A. Worthington, ed.), Volume V, p. 429), where he writes: Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others. If it was good enough for Jefferson, it's surely good enough for Conservapedia.--Britinme 09:45, 6 July 2007 (EDT)
I think that "Sir" is a lot less meaningful and relevant than "Dr" or "Rev". Most readers have no idea what would qualify someone to acquire the title of "Sir". But even if I agreed with you, CP and other encyclopedias do not even usually use "Dr" and "Rev". RSchlafly
On the contrary, "Sir" is a lot more meaningful and relevant that "Dr." or "Rev.". The latter can be "bought" (by plenty of hard study, etc.) by anybody will sufficient will to achieve them, and there are literally thousands of them in any one country. But "Sir" is a title that is reserved for someone who has achieved a lot more than just studying a few years—often it's bestowed for a lifetime (almost) of effort. It is a much higher honour than "Dr.".
If most readers have no idea, we educate them with an article. That issue is easily solved.
Other encyclopedias:
  • My World Book encyclopedia on disk has its article titled "Newton, Sir Isaac".
  • Wikipedia refers to him in the first line as "Sir Isaac Newton".
  • Britannica Online has it's article on him titled "Sir Isaac Newton"
  • Columbia Encyclopedia has it's article titled "Newton, Sir Isaac".
  • Encarta is the only exception that I found, not using that title at all.
If we follow the norm for other encyclopedias, we should change the name of the page to include "Sir", but I'm not proposing going that far.
Philip J. Rayment 20:13, 6 July 2007 (EDT)
Yes, I'd expect the Encyclopedia Britannica to use "Sir" as it pretends to be a British encyclopedia. This example should be added to the list of biases in Wikipedia. I tried another name in the Columbia Encyclopedia, Elton John, [10] and it does not use "Sir". It only says, "He was knighted in 1997."
Sir may be a higher title than Dr, but how do you know it hasn't been bought? I don't know much about British titles, but I would assume that many or most of those titles were given out for political and other reasons. RSchlafly 21:03, 6 July 2007 (EDT)
If anything Britannica is a British Encyclopedia pretending to be an American encyclopedia. And what is biased about Wikipedia showing Newton by his correct title?
Most of your arguments have been shown to be wrong, so you now resort to a "how do you know" type of argument and state an assumption about the subject, whilst in the same sentence acknowledging your ignorance of the subject!
You've failed to provide an adequate arguments, so I'm putting his title back in.
Philip J. Rayment 00:38, 7 July 2007 (EDT)
What argument was shown to be wrong? Show me one person outside of England who even knows what the title means. I looked up the Jefferson letter. It seems to be part of some sort of sarcastic put-down of negro literature. It doesn't make a good argument in this case. Why do you want to put the title in? It is redundant, at best. RSchlafly 02:43, 7 July 2007 (EDT)
RSchlafly - you've missed the point of why I quoted the Jefferson letter. I quoted it to show that an American, closer in time to Newton than we are now, routinely used the title when he referred to Newton. The subject of the letter is irrelevant. The use of the title is relevant. The fact that you don't know what it means is an acknowledgement of the limits of your understanding rather than Jefferson's, unless you claim that your understanding of these issues is superior to his.--Britinme 10:36, 11 July 2007 (EDT)
What arguments were shown to be wrong? These:
  • The title is meaningless to anyone outside England
  • I think that "Sir" is a lot less meaningful and relevant than "Dr" or "Rev". (Not actually an argument, but a personal opinion.)
  • CP and other encyclopedias do not even usually use "Dr" and "Rev". (Not directly shown to be wrong, but the implication that other encyclopedias do not show the "sir" title was shown to be wrong.)
  • To put "Sir" on his name would be like putting "Herr Doctor Professor" on the names of German scientists.
I've already answered the one about people outside England. And why to people inside England not count?
Why do I want to put it in? Because it is the proper thing to do; it is like part of his name. And how is it redundant if it hasn't been used already? Perhaps a later use of it might be made redundant by this, but this use is not. Why do you want it out, other than a personal opinion about its relevance?
Now what arguments of yours have I missed, other than arguments from personal opinion?
And why do you revert before making an attempt at getting agreement, given that we've had three editors here in the last few days (and others earlier) arguing for including the title, and only you arguing against it. Why can't the majority view be applied?
Philip J. Rayment 03:01, 7 July 2007 (EDT)

Philip, your edits are dishonest here. You labeled one, "Revert to consensus view as per talk page", when in fact there is no consensus here. You say I was shown to be wrong on four points, but the only contradictions to what I said was that I said "The title is meaningless to anyone outside England" and you said "I'm outside England, and it's not meaningless to me." But all you've said about what it means is "often it's bestowed for a lifetime (almost) of effort". If you really know what it means, then write an article about it. RSchlafly 14:52, 7 July 2007 (EDT)

Further to the above list of Americans accepting honorary knighthoods:

  • General Tommy Franks KBE 2004
  • Reverend Billy Graham KBE 2001
  • General Wesley Clark KBE 2000
  • Bob Hope KBE 1998
  • George Bush GCB 1993
  • General Colin Powell KCB 1993
  • General Norman Schwarzkopf KCB 1993
  • Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft KBE 1993
  • Ronald Reagan GCB 1989
  • J. Edgar Hoover KBE 1950
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower GCB 1945
  • General George C. Marshall GCB 1945
  • General George S. Patton GCB 1945
  • Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitiz GCB 1945
  • General Alexander Vandegrift KBE 1942

--Marshall 16:22, 7 July 2007 (EDT)

Let us know whether any encyclopedias call these folks "sir" in the first sentence. I say that CP should not call any of them "sir". RSchlafly 19:32, 7 July 2007 (EDT)
As discussed above, it is not appropriate for American citizens who have been knighted to use the title "Sir". It is only appropriate for British citizens who have been knighted to use the title "Sir". Thus "Sir Elton John" and "Sir Paul McCartney" are correct, but "Sir Bob Hope" or "Sir George Bush" would not be correct. No encyclopedia should call an American citizen "Sir". --Hsmom 10:00, 8 July 2007 (EDT)
In any case, a person's rank is not generally considered part of their name: the article is on Billy Graham, not Reverend Billy Graham. Only royalty (and some Catholic officials) have their rank mixed in with their name: Pope Gregory XIII, Richard Cardinal Cushing. But Sir Paul McCartney? No! --Ed Poor Talk 22:27, 7 July 2007 (EDT)
With the Pope, it is not just a title. It is also his job description, and what makes him a notable person. In the case of Newton, it is just an honorary title that is meaningless to most people. RSchlafly 23:47, 7 July 2007 (EDT)

RSchlafly, I don't appreciate people calling me "dishonest" when there is another possible, explanation, that being that I am simply incorrect, in this case, about the meaning of the word "consensus". However, I'm not even incorrect. "Consensus" does not mean, or at the very least does not have to mean, "unanimous agreement", it means "general agreement" or "majority of opinion". So my edit comment was not only not dishonest, it was correct.

That a knighthood was not meaningless to me was not the only refutation of your claim. Hsmom also answered your claim. And the other four points I listed were also answered, including showing that four out of five other encyclopedias refer to Newton as "Sir". And remember that it was you who raised "other encyclopedias" as a comparison. In return, you've left a number of my questions unanswered (such as why you want it omitted).

What relevance does a list of Americans with honorary knighthoods have to a debate about a non-American with a "real" knighthood? People with honorary knighthoods are not entitled to use the title "sir".

Ed, I don't consider a person's title part of their name, yet I've often seen others refer to them that way, saying things like "his name is Rev. Smith" and the like. So often, in fact, that I've sometimes wondered if I am right to make the distinction. Philip J. Rayment 09:48, 8 July 2007 (EDT)

Philip, I suggest looking up "consensus" in a dictionary. What is your position now, that "sir" should always be used with men who got real knighthoods, but not with those who got honorary knighthoods? How about Elton John and Paul McCartney? My position is that the title is inappropriate for an encyclopedia based outside of England. RSchlafly 12:10, 8 July 2007 (EDT)
I did look "consensus" up in a dictionary. Several in fact. That's why I said what I did—I do my research before making claims like that.
Yes, "sir" should always be used with men who got real knighthoods (obviously not for honorary knighthoods, for reasons explained above), but perhaps allowing an exception in special cases, such as where they did not use it themselves.
Your US-centric position is inappropriate for an encyclopedia that is trying to be more than just an American encyclopedia, and continues to fail to recognise that knighthoods apply in more than just England. And your position is not even merely US-centric, as even US-based encyclopedias mostly recognise knighthoods.
Philip J. Rayment 12:59, 8 July 2007 (EDT)
I think there is a bit of confusion here. The appropriate distinction is not between honorary and "real" knighthoods. I think that all of the knighthoods we are discussing here are honorary. Knighthoods should not be confused with hereditary titles, which is a completely different thing. As discussed above, it is not appropriate for American citizens who have been knighted to use the title "Sir". It is only appropriate for British citizens who have been knighted to use the title "Sir". This is why "Sir Elton John" and "Sir Paul McCartney" are correct, but "Sir Bob Hope" or "Sir George Bush" would not be correct, even though Bob Hope and George Bush have been knighted. This is why no encyclopedia should call an American citizen "Sir". I think a sensible approach for us would be to call the article "Isaac Newton", with a redirect (or whatever the proper term is) from "Sir Isaac Newton", and to leave the "Sir" in the first sentence. --Hsmom 10:00, 8 July 2007 (EDT)
This confusion is just more evidence that the title is meaningless to most people. Philip claims to be outside England, but he is obviously some sort of anglophile who wants to draw attention to the British monarchy. He even uses British spellings. Newton's accomplishments stand on their own merit, and do need a sign of approval from some long-dead queen. RSchlafly 00:00, 9 July 2007 (EDT)
On the contrary, this is more evidence of your apparently-blinkered US-centric views. As can easily be seen from my user page, I am Australian, and I use Australian spelling. I don't just "claim" to be outside England, I am outside England, I've never been to England, and I have to go back about six generations to find ancestors (at least on the paternal line) who emigrated from England.
Americans are not "most people"; just because it is meaningless to you and to who knows how many other Americans (but clearly not all; most others debating this point are American) doesn't mean that it is meaningless to "most people".
If you are at liberty to claim that I am some sort of Anglophile, then I guess that I am at liberty to claim that you are an Anglophobe who wants to denigrate the British monarchy.
Now, the majority of editors debating this are clearly on the side of including the title, and you have not advanced much in the way of a reason to oppose it, other than subjective claims such as it being "meaningless", so can we just let this issue go and accept that the majority have spoken?
Philip J. Rayment 02:17, 9 July 2007 (EDT)
I see, you're not an Anglophile, you just like Australian spelling! You're funny. Well, you live in a country that puts the British queen on its money, and you go out of your way to credit the British monarchy. You're welcome to your opinions, but I really think that they don't belong on the Isaac Newton page.
The "sir" title is not just meaningless to me and most Americans; it is apparent that you don't know what it means either, as evidenced by your bogus distinction between real knighthoods and honorary knighthoods. RSchlafly 14:43, 9 July 2007 (EDT)
How do you go from me using Australian spellings (because I am Australian) to liking Australian spellings? And how does that make me "funny"? Your ignorance of non-American matters continues to show. Australia does not put the British queen on its money. It puts the Australian queen on its money. Yes, it is the same individual, but she is on the money because she is the Australian queen, not because she is the British queen.
Just because I'm not an expert on all the fine details of knighthoods does not mean that I don't know what a knighthood means. And I don't agree that my distinction was bogus. I think that Hsmom's description was not entirely accurate. As I understand it, it's not true that Americans cannot use the title simply because they are Americans. What I believe to be the case is that people who are not citizens of a country that adopts the British honours system (which Australia no longer does, but used to) can only be given honorary knighthoods, and honorary knighthoods are not entitled to use the title "sir". So the effect of Hsmom's comments were basically correct, even though technically she didn't have it exactly correct, I believe.
Philip J. Rayment 21:45, 9 July 2007 (EDT)

Mr. Rayment, I fear my above contribution may have derailed your discussion somewhat. I shall attempt to rectify matters below:

Results obtained by searching "sir" on (first two pages only):

If Fox News sees fit to accord these figures (both historical and contemporary) their full title, I see no reason why Conservapedia should be so churlish as to deny Newton his. --Marshall 16:13, 9 July 2007 (EDT)

Thanks for that. I wasn't being critical of your earlier list, so much as RSchlafly's (invalid) use of it to make his point. Philip J. Rayment 21:45, 9 July 2007 (EDT)
What has Fox News got to do with anything? I thought that Fox News was owned by some Australian! He could be some friend of Philip's for all I know, and have the British queen's image on his money. RSchlafly 01:21, 10 July 2007 (EDT)
Now THAT was funny! Actually Rupert Murdoch was born here but is now an American citizen, I'm pretty sure. Philip J. Rayment 01:43, 10 July 2007 (EDT)

Changed Leibniz calculus dispute statement

in order to agree with the cited material

'Newton formulated the classical theories of mechanics and optics and invented calculus Eric Weisstein's World of Math years before Leibniz. However, he did not publish his work on calculus Eric Weisstein's World of Math until afterward Leibniz had published his. This led to a bitter priority dispute between English and continental mathematicians which persisted for decades, to the detriment of all concerned.'[[11]]

Newton’s theory invalid

Reginod, I notice that you now say that Newtonian has been "falsified" and is "no longer scientifically valid", based on some opinion of some philosopher. It appears that you justify this based on me citing a philosopher saying that Freud's work was unscientific.

I don't agree with this. First, Freud's work really was unscientific. Newton's work was scientific, and continues to be used successfully by scientists today. Second, Putnam was presumably making some point about how one theory was more accurate than another, but your sentence is very misleading. Third, I cited Popper to show that Freud was never scientific, not that it was superceded by another theory. RSchlafly 19:31, 28 April 2007 (EDT)

This is why I asked you about this issue, because we have been over this before. If philosophers of science are valid on what is science then my support for a claim which is well enough known to be true that it doesn’t really need a reference is a valid one. I think the reference is as valid as you use of Popper (If not more so, since Putnam builds on Popper’s wok and is, probably, closer to the truth than Popper was).
Let me respond point by point.
To your first point: Putnam is clear Newton has been falsified, his theories are no longer good science—it is irrelevant that they were good science—Aristotle’s claims about biology were good science when he made them, and to some extent they can still be used successfully today but we would not say they are good science. Successful use is not the same as good science. Newton’s claims do (and did) not accurately predict the new data that they should have been able to predict if the theory was correct, they are no longer valid science—sure they work and sure they still predict some behaviors, but they do not predict all motion as he clamed they did.
To your second point: that is not Putnam’s point at all. Putnam is describing the process by which formerly valid scientific theories are replaced—Newton’s theory is an excellent case study of this. First a theory is formulated, it describes the available data. If successful it predicts new data. Then, data begins to be collected that falsifies the theory. But, the theory is too well entrenched to be replaced immediately—more data has to be collected before the scientific community accepts that the theory that has worked so well for them is falsified. So, step three is that more data is collected—in small pockets—and the dominant theory is repeatedly modified to account for the new data (think about how complex planetary motion had become before Newton). Finally, a new theory is proposed. It is first rejected because it goes against the old theory and the old theory is too cherished to be easily replaced, then it is discovered that the new theory not only accounts for all the available data (which the old theory couldn’t quite do), it predicts, accurately, new data. So the new theory finally comes to replace the old one as good science.
Additionally, I take your claim that I have misleadingly quoted Putnam very seriously. You have accused me of academic dishonesty and yet given the language of the sentence (“presumably”) you have not even bothered to check the source I have given. I have clearly explained why my sentence is not misleading, what the source was saying, and that shows why my sentence was a reasonable (concise) statement of the source. I expect, therefore, a public retraction of the false attack against my character.
To your third point: “X is not scientific” or “X is not science” is a claim that can be supported by experts in the field of philosophy of science according to what you said on the Freud talk page. The reason the philosopher of science rejects a thing as science seems irrelevant. If they know what is and is not science/scientific, it hardly matters whether or not the thing was science we are taking about what is not what was.--Reginod 09:36, 29 April 2007 (EDT)
I still don't agree. Why don't you also say that relativity is invalid, because of dark energy or quantization? Maybe the reader could read Putnam's book and figure out what he meant, but to just declare that Newtonian gravity is invalid is very misleading. RSchlafly 15:34, 29 April 2007 (EDT)
I refuse to continue any discussion with you until you apologize for your baseless accusations and personal attacks against me.--Reginod 15:43, 29 April 2007 (EDT)
I did not make baseless accusations and personal attacks against you. I did not say that you "misleadingly quoted Putnam"; you didn't even quote him at all as far as I can see. I did not accuse you of academic dishonesty. I did say that "your sentence is very misleading", and that is still my opinion. RSchlafly 16:20, 29 April 2007 (EDT)
You are quite right, I should have said you have accused me of misstating Putnam’s position, as opposed to misquoting (I was loose in my usage there, and if that confusion is all that is keeping you from retracting your attack, I hope I have cleared it up).
However, it is quite clear that you have accused me of academic dishonesty, even if that was not your intent. If I misleadingly referenced a source I am guilty of academic dishonesty, if you are saying that my reference does not support my claim you are attacking my integrity. You have not shown any evidence that you have so much as looked at the source I gave, and yet you say I am misleadingly referencing it. That is a personal attack, and it is unjustified. Please apologize, retract the claim, or support your position.--Reginod 16:33, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

Take a chill pill, Reginod. The critique here is over one sentence - it is not about you as a person.

The idea concerns the role of truth and its relation to the scientific method, as well as to how science corrects itself or refines theories.

Let us take a step back and look at the matter at hand:

Are Newton's laws of motion "valid"? Were they invalidated or "disproved" by the Lorentz equations, Einstein's new theories, or Quantum physics?

Can we say that Newton's Laws apply only to "slow-moving" objects (say, less than 10% of the speed of light)?

There is a philosophical question, as well (perhaps in Epistemology or Methodology, if you want to get technical). How well do we actually know anything? --Ed Poor 10:46, 30 April 2007 (EDT)

Ed, if the criticism were not about me as a person, RSchlafly could have easily said, “I’m sorry, you took that as an attack against your person, I did not intend it as such” and then reprased the offending sentence. Instead he chose to repeat the attack verbatim, KNOWING that I found it personally offensive. I think it is highly reasonable to take offense at the repetition of a charge that the person making the charge knows is offensive. If it were not intended to be offensive, he would not have repeated it.
As to your deeper questions, I had, at one point, detailed answers to those questions in the article and was told that they were not relevant to the subject of the article.--Reginod 11:03, 30 April 2007 (EDT)

Then write about Scientific method; History of science (or physics or astronomy); Epistemology; or Methodology. The matter you are addressing here might be beyond the scope of the present article. --Ed Poor 11:09, 30 April 2007 (EDT)

I’m not really interested in those fields, but I appreciate the offer. When I first got here this article was badly deficient, and I had some knowledge on the subject so I added what I knew and tried to move on (this particular example was a stock example when I was teaching and was pared with one about Darwin and I’m not touching Evolution with a 10-foot pole). What I added was deleted (I seem to recall the reason given was that it was heresy), I restored it. It was deleted again, I added more and better references and restored it. And then it was deleted because philosophers of science aren’t good sources for the sorts of claim I was using them to support. So, I moved on, no need to engage in an edit war. Then it turns out (see Freud) that philosophers of science ARE good sources for the types of claim I was using them to support, so I restored the claim—in a good faith attempt to make this article more closely reflect reality (and I hasten to add that throughout all this not a singe reference has been given for the claim contrary to the one I was making). And for my efforts to improve the site I get attacked. --Reginod 11:34, 30 April 2007 (EDT)

Missing items

Why is there nothing in this article about light or about Newton's laws of motion? Why on earth is it locked? --Britinme 17:38, 2 May 2007 (EDT)

Regarding Newton's supposed Arianism

I have been reading Newton's writings lately and believe the case for Newton's supposed Arianism to be weak. The greatest supposed evidence for his Arianism seems to be because of his association with William Whiston. "Artic. 9. We need not pray to Christ to intercede for us. If we pray the father aright he will intercede."

Isaac Newton probably held to an Eastern Orthodox view of the trinity.

"To us there is but one God the father of whom are all things and we of him, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things and we by him. That is, we are to worship the father alone as God Almighty and Jesus alone as the Lord the Messiah the great King the Lamb of God who was slain and hath redeemed us with his blood and made us kings and Priests."

RichardT 11:38, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

You may be right. Thanks for your insights. I've unlocked the content page and you can improve with your supported statements. Godspeed.--Aschlafly 12:01, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

Principa Mathematica

Perhaps his most well known work is Principa Mathematica and the invention of Calculus, why is this not in? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Lonewolf1313 (talk)

Because nobody's thought to add it? That gives you the opportunity! Philip J. Rayment 20:15, 18 November 2007 (EST)

Reversion explained

The wholesale deletion of persuasive evidence that Newton was a Christian was unjustified. At Conservapedia, we do not simply repeat the consensus of modern atheists, who obviously have bias against Newton being a Christian.--Aschlafly 22:05, 16 September 2008 (EDT)

Newton certainly was a Christian--the problem was that he believed in the Arian version, which orthodox Christians considered a heresy. Newton thought the Arians were the true Christians. He would lose his job if he published that idea so he kept it to his notebooks, which were unavailable to scholars until the 20th century. (They had been owned by a private family who stored them in a vault.) RJJensen 22:27, 16 September 2008 (EDT)
I'm happy to reconsider the evidence, but let's not delete evidence while considering it. Thanks and Godspeed.--Aschlafly 22:28, 16 September 2008 (EDT)
I note that you (RJJensen) quote Pfizenmaier saying, "Among contemporary scholars, the consensus is that Newton was an Arian". His paper is apparently not available on-line without a subscription, so I can't check it for myself, but I do note that another source also cites Pfizenmaier in support of the claim that "Some have accused him of Arianism, but it’s likely he held to the Eastern Orthodox view of the Trinity rather than the Western one held by Roman Catholics, Anglicans and most Protestants.". Philip J. Rayment 05:02, 17 September 2008 (EDT)
I added some new references--there has been a lot of work in the last 15 years. The issue is exactly how Newton's theology influenced his science and where his alchemy fits in. The scholars all agree he was a devout Christian but did not believe in the Trinity. Pfizenmaier never mentions the Eastern Orthodox church. Anyone interested can email me for copies of the articles, RJJensen 08:39, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

new material by RJJensen

I added a lot of new material on his biography and his physics, as well as a bibliography. I wrote it all, and previously posted it to Citizendium. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by RJJensen (talk)

It looked like it was copied, but I didn't know where from. I suggest that you use the {{Copied from}} template at the top of this talk page. Philip J. Rayment 04:41, 17 September 2008 (EDT)


The calculus section had some conceptual errors in it: the binomial theorem doesn't express an area; it re-expresses a function (such as a square root) as an infinite series of polynomial terms. The integration of this series is what gives the area. Also, it is worthwhile to mention Fermat's contributions for "integrating" polynomial curves -- Newton would have never considered re-expressing a square root as an infinite polynomial if there wasn't already an easy way to compute areas under polynomial curves. I've rewritten the mathematics of this section appropriately. -Foxtrot 04:16, 3 November 2008 (EST)

Controversy Surrounding Newton's Sexuality.

Just came across at least a few sources which may indicate Newton was a homosexual, which I believe would interest those of the Conservapedia community, as well as all God Fearing Christians.

As much as I hate to admit it, there is a non-trivial amount of evidence for this. Newton never married, nor did he bear children as God Intended (which already leaves a black mark against him in my book - or should I say, my Good Book). And not only does his close early correspondence with one John Wickens taint the palette of homosexuality (even though this may be attributed to early college homosexual experimentation, which is common among most men, or so I hear), but also his later correspondence with Fatio de Duillier with such Sinful sentences as ...the reasons I should not marry will probably last as long as my life', or 'I could wish sir to live all my life, or the greatest part of it, with you.' TWO MEN? CHOOSING TO LIVE A """""CONSENSUAL""""" LIFE TOGETHER? ISN'T THERE SOMEONE YOU FORGOT TO ASK?

Please consider adding this as, and I'm thinking you'll agree, paints a rather non-Christian portrait of our hero of classical (and, lets be fair, modern) physics.

Cheers, Micheal Simon Ph: 371-352-6526, if you'd like to discuss the matter further.

THIS ARTICLE appears to be well-researched concerning Isaac Newton's sexuality. There doesn't seem to be any "smoking gun evidence" that Newton was a homosexual. Newton was a very private man that much could be said for sure.
Also, read THIS as it reveals who said "I could wish sir to live all my life, or the greatest part of it, with you." and ...the reasons I should not marry will probably last as long as my life" along with a fuller context.Conservative (talk) 04:14, 2 January 2019 (EST)
Being single does not a gay make, and there's a lot of best friends out there who don't have sex with each other. Perhaps this guy Newton was talking about was his best friend, and perhaps they didn't have a sexual relationship.

If there's no evidence beyond an allegation, then why should we give credence to it? Karajou (talk) 17:09, 2 January 2019 (EST)