The rules Sir Isaac Newton developed for the scientific study
of unknown phenomena
In his case it was to study gravity. I used his rules to
study Masonic Astrology.
Newton tackled a similar problem to the one which I had set
myself in Turning the Solomon Key when he began to study gravity. He had
a set of observations which told him how celestial objects moved in the sky but
nobody knew why they moved as they did. When Newton approached the problem of
predicting the movements of the solar system, astrology was considered a
respectable science to study at University. Then Newton created modern astronomy
and in the process destroyed astrology as a science.
Practitioners of astrology soon turned to the new science of
astronomy and built on Newton’s work to create the present day level of
expertise, where the astronomical events can be predicted to an accuracy of
seconds for many years in advance. The prophecies of no other science can
compare with those of astronomy. Its predictions have achieved a brilliant
success, so brilliant that astronomical forecasts are taken for granted and
astronomers feel greatly abused if the predicted occurrence does not take place
precisely at the time foretold - to the nearest fraction of a second, and in the
Yet when Newton started his studies little was known about
what governed the movements of the planets and just a few years earlier Galileo
had dismissed as astrological nonsense the notion that the movements of the moon
could possibly govern the state of the tides.
As part of his book “Mathematical Principles of Natural
Philosophy” or Principia Mathmatica as it was called in Latin, Newton not only
proved that the gravitation pull of the Moon was responsible for the tides he
showed how to predict tides with an enormous degree of accuracy from the
movements of the Moon but when he began his investigation he had no idea what
force made astral bodies attract each other.
Newton laid down four rules of reasoning for his investigation
into the law of gravity. He did this because, when he started his work, he knew
he was unable to draw upon any causative principle which would enable him to
predict how gravity might work.
I was in exactly the same position. I had a limited set of
observations which as first sight seemed to give statistical evidence to suggest
there might be a phenomena to investigate but I had no model of science to guide
my investigations, or to suggest particular experiments. In similar
circumstances Newton had laid down a method of proceeding which served him
well. I decided to use his rules to guide my own quest.
Here are the rules of reasoning which Sir Isaac laid down in
1686 and I adopted for my own investigation:
We are to admit no more causes of natural things than
such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.
To this purpose the philosophers say that Nature does
nothing in vain, and more is in vain when less will serve; for Nature is
pleased with simplicity, and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.
This rule means that I will base any explanations only on
forces known to physics. “Teluric” forces, PSI or unknown 'Cosmic influences' are not allowed as a means of
linking the stars and the individual.
- Therefore the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign to
the same causes,
- As to respiration in a man and in a beast; the descent of stones in Europe
and in America; the light of our culinary fire and of the sun; the
reflection of the light of the earth, and in the planets.
Any effects I use in my attempts at explanation must not need
any special arguing to fit the circumstances, e.g.. I can not assume that
“thought waves” travel faster than light unless I can show that such
behaviour is part of accepted scientific theory.
The qualities of bodies, which admit neither
intensification nor remission of degrees, and which are found to belong to
all bodies with the reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the
universal qualities of all bodies whatsoever.
For since the qualities of bodies are only known to us
by experiments, we are to hold for universal all such as universally agree
with experiments; and such as are not liable to diminution can never be
quite taken away. We are certainly not to relinquish the evidence of
experiments for the sake of dreams and vain fictions of our own devising;
nor are we to recede from the analogy of Nature, which is wont to be simple
and always consonant to itself.
This rule insists that if observational or experimental
evidence conflicts with any theories I have put forward then I must accept the
evidence of observations and experiments, it also implies that if a simple and a
complex theory explain the evidence then I accept the simpler option.
In experimental philosophy we are to look upon
propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as accurately or
very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypothesis that may be
imagined, till such time as other phenomena occur, by which they may either
be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions.
This rule we must follow, that the argument of
induction may not be evaded by hypothesis.
This rule says that I must make my theories fit the facts and
not try to adjust the facts to fit my theory.
To ensure fair play between the conflicting demands of science
and astrology I decided to adopt Newton’s four rules of reasoning as my own
and to use them to guide my collection of evidence and my analysis of causes.
The results of this study can be found in Turning the Solomon Key.