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Stephen Hawking Turned Down Knighthood

CowboyNeal posted more than 5 years ago | from the camelot-is-a-silly-place dept.

Education 201

schliz writes "Professor Stephen Hawking has revealed that he turned down the offer of a knighthood over 10 years ago. The scientist has released correspondence showing that he was approached with the offer of a knighthood but refused it on principle. Professor Hawking has also revealed correspondence showing harsh criticism of what he sees as the UK government's mismanagement of science funding. He is particularly critical of the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils."

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What do you get with knighthood? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884209)

Lots of women? The ability to do +2 damage? What's the deal and why would someone want it?

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (4, Interesting)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884305)

I'm sure there are perks that come with it, but I believe the main thing is the honour of being recognised nationally for your achievements.

I find it particularly interesting, as I'd backed a Downing Street petition [pm.gov.uk] to get Prof. Hawking Knighted - and the Government response was:

Thank you for taking the trouble to sign this e-petition.
The Prime Minister recognises the achievements of Professor Stephen Hawking and the widespread regard in which he is held. But it is of course the case that only about 60 Knighthoods are granted each year and there are many deserving candidates for each honour.
However, the government can assure you that your support for this suggestion will be taken fully into account.
To be fair, as one of the best scientific minds of his generation, it's typically British to ignore him during his lifetime - give it 200 years or so after his death before it'll be realized how important he was.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (4, Interesting)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884335)

To be fair, as one of the best scientific minds of his generation, it's typically British to ignore him during his lifetime - give it 200 years or so after his death before it'll be realized how important he was.

Only he wasn't ignored: he refused the honour.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (5, Insightful)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884381)

Only he wasn't ignored: he refused the honour.

I appreciate that now, the petition was conducted before this news broke.

Having said that, it is a norm for the UK to have less focus on rewarding people like Prof. Hawking, instead focussing on a popular celebrity - a New Labour way of showing that they are 'in touch' with the populace.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (5, Insightful)

caramelcarrot (778148) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884473)

Hawking is pretty much a "popular celebrity" - there are a lot of other just as smart physicists/scientists out there. This isn't to degrade his achievements, and it's in some way useful for there to be a popular point of contact/figurehead with advanced physicsts.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884535)

I can see your point there, certainly.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885865)

'in some way useful' ? i would thinks its pretty 'useful' to science to make science popular

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886285)

Exactly!

I've seen ads (for the equivalent of govt bonds) with Stephen Hawking in them.

If that's not popularity, I do not know what is. =)

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (2, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885977)


Only he wasn't ignored: he refused the honour.

And good for him. I already had a lot of respect for him and now it's gone even higher. It's a wise man whose sense of self-worth isn't influenced by titles he's given.

On a slightly related topic, a friend tricked me into going to see "Superhero Movie" last week (I thought we were going to see "Hancock" when she said a spoof superhero movie). It had few enough laughs to begin with, but when they started taking the piss out of Stephen Hawking, they stopped entirely. He really is an incredible person, both for his ability and his fortitude. I'm glad he decided not to lend his stature to the British Honours system. They need him more than he needs them.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (4, Interesting)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886145)

And good for him. I already had a lot of respect for him and now it's gone even higher. It's a wise man whose sense of self-worth isn't influenced by titles he's given.

Then again, there is a purpose to accepting such honours.
You can return them afterwards as a sign of protest, and it echoes more loudly than simply refusing them in the first place.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (5, Interesting)

TommyMc (949670) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884597)

as one of the best scientific minds of his generation, it's typically British to ignore him during his lifetime

Stephen Hawking is hardly "ignored". In fact, I'm struggling to think of a physicist less ignored. He's the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, has had a book stay on the British bestseller list for 5 years, and has been the subject of numerous documentaries, to name a few. If he's as well appreciated 200 years after his death as he is during his life, then he'll have been proved important.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

Bushcat (615449) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884829)

He's not been ignored. He's up to his ass in assorted honors (and more power to him for it). Formal honors are a way of recognising a person's contribution to society that are not connected to the would-be recipient's ability to generate wealth. As such, it's reasonably egalitarian, although also somewhat flawed in implementation. Since the initial approach for any award is also private, the would-be recipient can decline it with as little or as much as s/he desires, which is also a nice touch.

Chess! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885331)

I'm sure there are perks that come with it, but I believe the main thing is the honour of being recognised nationally for your achievements.
It is also useful for playing chess. You get the ability to move all pawns like knights on the first move as well as the ability to resurrect a fallen knight. Really, it is in the chess rulebook! But that is nothing compared to the moves you get when you become a bishop or a duke!


I should note that these rule adjustments only work in the UK and Commonwealth countries. And if you are ever in the UK, don't play a game of chess with the queen. Not even Kasparov would attempt it.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

real gumby (11516) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885575)

To be fair, as one of the best scientific minds of his generation, it's typically British to ignore him during his lifetime - give it 200 years or so after his death before it'll be realized how important he was.
You know that sounds obvious and typical but it's hard to find someone for whom it's true. There are many fine British minds who were contemporaneously perfectly well celebrated (to pick four fields: Orwell, Keynes, Bacon, Crick yes, Hawking) but go back a century or two (for your metric): Maxwell, Brunel (about a century), Watt (a couple) even Newton (a previous Lucasian professor). Even the Kray twins were contemporaneously famous!

In fact I have trouble thinking of an example that fits your claim. Basically the key to British (and most) fame is to be famous in your lifetime first. And hell, it's more fun that way.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (5, Informative)

thsths (31372) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886005)

> In fact I have trouble thinking of an example that fits your claim. Basically the key to British (and most) fame is to be famous in your lifetime first.

What about Alan Turing? Of course he is still much better received abroad than in his own country, but he is a perfect example of an unrecognised genius. He was used to win the war, and then dumped like a hot potato.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

real gumby (11516) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886129)

Excellent example, thanks!

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

jb.cancer (905806) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886079)

Two words .. Alan Turing

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (0, Offtopic)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884369)

Why are people modding this down, just because it's an AC? Stop with the AC hate for no apparent reason.
If an AC makes a stupid post, mark it as such, if you read this post it's a pretty valid question, is it not?

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (0, Offtopic)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884485)

No idea why it's marked troll; valid question put across in a humorous way.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884633)

Well, it's an honor. It's recognition, which is nice, but which Hawking doesn't exactly need more of.

If Wayne Gretsky was denied membership in the Hockey Hall of Fame, it wouldn't diminish his stature one bit. He might be annoyed at not being inducted, but in truth it's the Hall of Fame that is diminished. If he had a reason to refuse membership, he could do so, knowing of course that he'd effectively have to be in it, because players of the era couldn't be honored without mentioning him.

As far as women are concerned, apparently Einstein had plenty of 'em, and he wasn't exactly physically attractive. I'm sure that if Hawking's equipment is functional, he could use it on a different woman every day if he wanted to. So he doesn't get more women, no. But a lesser luminary might. Consider if you are introduced to a woman as "Dr. So and So, who is a physicist" as opposed to "Sir So and So, the physicist." To the degree being a physicist might move you towards home base (or whatever the cricket equivalent is), I'd imagine the knighthood might get you a bit farther.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885953)

>If Wayne Gretsky was denied membership in the Hockey Hall of Fame, it wouldn't diminish his stature one bit.

If Wayne Gretsky told the Hokey Hall of Fame to take a walk, it might diminish the Hall's stature a bit.

If Hawking turned down a knighthood, that's the equivalent of giving the middle finger to the Queen.

I hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884823)

...that it makes everyone else in the world call you "Sir" and leave the room walking backwards while mumbling humble pledges of servitude to you.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (5, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884931)

You get to move one space to the left or right whenever you walk forward.

The chicks love it.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (1)

cheyne.omatic (880440) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886287)

Your wheelchair moves at the speed of KNIGHT!

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885175)

find out:
arrowhenge, sherwood forest
summer solstice

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885327)

THACO=4

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23886387)

You fucking god damn piece of shit Europeans. I wish you would all just die. Your EU is a joke, Ireland even agrees with me. A note vote on Lisbon and now your bureaucratic goons are going to do everything they can to steamroll over Irish rights. You people make me so fucking sick. With your clown cars and your joke socialist pseudo-union.

The devil will be lacing up his ice skates before I set foot on your decrepit continent. I wish you pukes would come here to Atlanta so I could kick your asses around your collective necks. Be thankful I don't have my finger on The Button. I swear I would start thermonuclear war and face the consequences just to wipe your arrogant faces off of the map. If everyone of you died tomorrow, I'd be jumping for joy. Fuck your mothers, fuck your kids, fuck your babies (what babies you impotent pukes have), fuck your parliaments, fuck your queens, you imperialist pricks. You fucks fawn over your precious "royalty". You see how far that your highness shit got here in America. My dogs are better than you all are. I wouldn't spit on you if your assholes were on fire. To sum it up, please die. In lieu of that, open your borders wider so the muslim hordes can hurry up and take over. The rest of the world will be a much better place. And while you're at it, take Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with you. Fuck you all. Die.

Re:What do you get with knighthood? (2, Funny)

uxbn_kuribo (1146975) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886395)

You start out with a lance, a pony, and the ability to jump in an L-shape. Also, after you've been a knight for a while, you can dip your sword in a fountain to see if it'll turn into Excalibur.

Kill all Muslims (-1, Troll)

Kill all Muslims (845937) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884215)

Praise Jesus.

Also, he couldn't figured out how to get... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884229)

himself, the speech synth, and the wheel chair onto the horse's back. He would be a knight after all. I didn't even get to the part of how he could hold the lance.

Re:Also, he couldn't figured out how to get... (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884715)

himself, the speech synth, and the wheel chair onto the horse's back. He would be a knight after all. I didn't even get to the part of how he could hold the lance.

This is so trollish that I should ignore it, but I should note that I work with a group of speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and rehabilitation engineers who would have loved the challenge and it is almost certainly possible to do.

Google "hippotherapy." Creating such a mounting system wouldn't be a completely useless endeavor.

Ixnay on the Itlestay (0, Troll)

L3J (1295114) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884235)

The article states that "Professor Hawking does not like titles. In fact he dislikes the whole concept of them,". Should we ignore his Ph.D.? What about the CBE he was awarded in '82? "Commander of the British Empire? Fellow of the Royal Society? Bah, call me Steve"

Re:Ixnay on the Itlestay (4, Insightful)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884253)

I reckon there's a difference between a title and a position. Yes, 'professor' is a title, but it's a professional one. 'Sir' isn't.

Re:Ixnay on the Itlestay (1)

Nyago (784496) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884275)

Maybe he changed his mind. It does happen. If people's opinions were immutable, we'd be incapable of learning anything.

Re:Ixnay on the Itlestay (5, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886257)

Maybe he changed his mind. It does happen. If people's opinions were immutable, we'd be incapable of learning anything.

In America, if you're capable of learning, you're supposed to hide the fact. Demonstrating the capacity to learn is guaranteed to get to ridiculed for being a "flip-flopper". It's considered a sign of strength and character to never change you mind no matter what you learn or how circumstances change. :p

Re:Ixnay on the Itlestay (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886067)

I wouldn't mod the parent as Troll it's a valid point and as youthoftoday pointed out Professor is not a title it was earned and 'Sir' is a title, an honor, given to a man.

Hawking is just mad for this reason... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884245)

He wasted all his time and effort to search Africa for "geniuses". According to my friend, IQ tests among different races, etc. my friend said it's only possible for 9 geniuses to exist in the whole continent of 900,000,000 due to the scientific data.

Talk about finding a needle in the haystack, not to mention that accusations of witchcraft will get you killed in the alleged "starting place of civilization". So I figure if 9 are in theory around, that its more likely like 3 because 6 of the geniuses were burned alive for being witches or involving in black magic.

parent is not a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884363)

go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:IQ-4races-rotate-highres.png [wikipedia.org] and put the average/SD data into an excel normdist function. Base your idea of "genius" IQ on whatever you want. In my case, I did it at 160 IQ since they were looking for "Einsteins" in Africa (Einstein is said to have 160 IQ).

You will see that the statement is not a troll and is, in fact, correct.

Re:parent is not a troll (0)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885799)

Actually, the chart you link to is IQ of various "races" in the US. It tells us nothing about people around the world, as the factors influencing the intelligence of various people in the US may have more to do with social factors and so on.

I find it unlikely (although admittedly possible) that people of different "races" have different ranges of potential intelligence. But I find it equally as "possible" (as in, not very) that people of different hair colour have different ranges of potential intelligence.

Note of course, I did mention POTENTIAL intelligence rather than intelligence, because the aforementioned social factors unfortunately cause problems there... :(

Re:Hawking is just mad for this reason... (0, Troll)

tietokone-olmi (26595) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884713)

Wow, AC's friend says so. Just, wow.

This is a shock.

I'll start burning them niggers right away.

You want some Knighthoood? (5, Funny)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884261)

"We want you to be our Knight Professor Hawking."

(robot voice)"No, you can keep it. I will not risk valorous death for someone who mismanages the government funding of my chosen profession.

"No, you don't understand..."

(loud robot voice)"I SAID KEEP IT!"

Re:You want some Knighthoood? (4, Interesting)

onedotzero (926558) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884591)

It does make me wonder if the good Professor does indeed use all caps to shout, a la IRC.

source of knighthood vs source of funding (4, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884297)

I thought knighthoods were handed out by the monarch as special recognition of one's accomplishments. It's the queen's way of saying thanks for being such an outstanding citizen. If you have a beef with the prime minister(s) and their budgeting priority that's not the queen's fault. Seems rather rude to slap her thanks down for something she's not in charge of.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884301)

Generally knighthoods and other honours are given out based on recommendations by ministers of the current government, the queen actually has very little say in the matter - she controls the Order of the Garter completely however.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (5, Funny)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884707)

Generally knighthoods and other honours are given out based on recommendations by ministers of the current government, the queen actually has very little say in the matter - she controls the Order of the Garter completely however.
Are you saying the Queen isn't personally appreciative of Hawking's work on the mathematics behind black holes? Are you saying she doesn't read Nature and publish papers on quantum loop gravity and super-symmetry all day?! Then what the hell does she do with all her time and wealth?!

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (3, Interesting)

expatriot (903070) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885491)

There is a popular urban myth that Charles Dodgson wrote a book about magic rabbits that the queen (Victoria) liked and wanted a copy of the next book he wrote. Unfortunately for her, it was a book on mathematics.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885723)

Wow, Order of the Garter [wikipedia.org] is correct. At first I thought it was a Freudian slip on Order of the Guard or something, although thinking about it, a garter on the Queen is probably not something one would want to fantasize about.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884307)

I was thinking the same thing. Also, imagine the good that could come out of it. It would show that people other than celebrities and musicians are role models. It's just a shame, IMHO.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (3, Informative)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884365)

Its the govt who decide who gets "honored". The monarch is pretty much just the person who makes the announcement. So, Hawking's "slap" was fairly squarely aimed at Blair and co.

Regarding who honors actually get dished out to, y'know the Darling brothers - Codemasters founders - got honored just recently? Its really not just celebs, musicians and sporty types.

http://arstechnica.com/journals/thumbs.ars/2008/06/18/codemasters-founders-honored-by-queen-of-england [arstechnica.com]

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884375)

There was nothing in TFA or summary to indicate that these two things were related. He didn't turn down knighthood because of the budgeting, he turned it down because he doesn't want to be a knight.

From TFA:
  "Professor Hawking does not like titles. In fact he dislikes the whole concept of them," a spokesman told The Times.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (1)

timlyg (266415) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884463)

It is said he doesn't like titles. Besides, why demoting himself to accept something from a pompous old twit when he already has recognition from the world?

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (2, Informative)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884467)

Knighthoods also give recognition to the queen.

John Lennon's rejection when je was with the Beatles realy hutr the prestige.

So now they ask diplomatically. Steven Hawkins deserves the maximum recognition in the UK but it's great that he doesn't need one from the Queen.

Reading comprehension (5, Informative)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884561)

It looks to me as though you're confusing two parts of the article. It's actually talking about two sets of correspondence, one about the knighthood and one about funding disputes. On the knighthood, it says:

"Professor Hawking does not like titles. In fact he dislikes the whole concept of them," a spokesman told The Times.

So he turned the knighthood down because he dislikes knighthood in principle. That seems like a reasonable position, and a willingness to turn down personal advancement on a matter of principle seems like an honorable decision. The arguments about funding were a separate issue and, apparently, one that came about some time after he turned down the knighthood.

Re:Reading comprehension (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885289)

"Professor Hawking does not like titles. In fact he dislikes the whole concept of them"
Is it just me, or does it seem hypocritical to use the title of "Professor" in this sentence. I mean, if that really is Hawking's spokesman.

Re:Reading comprehension (2, Insightful)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885465)

Professor is used as a position vice a title. I would presume Hawking was referring to honorific titles such as those of nobility and knighthood, vice positions held. One could fairly refer to him as a fellow or professor, since he holds both positions as a research fellow and a professor. I've read he does not prefer the honorific of Doctor.

Re:Reading comprehension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23886349)

He may well be against all titles- including Doctor, Professor, Mr and Mrs... I myself sympathize with the view, though I can see it's not practical to try and eliminate them.

Re:Reading comprehension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885339)

He is against titles on principle? That explains why he insists on being referred to as Steve, or Stevie, or even the Hawk rather than Dr. or Professor.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884641)

The Queen is just a figurehead. While the Queen is the ruler of the land and theoretically has a lot of power, she's only allowed to keep this power on the condition that she doesn't use it.

So, yes. The knighthoods are handed out by the monarch, but that's just a legal fiction. They're actually decided upon by the government of the day.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885253)

it's that they Honor HIM because he's popular and not his WORK. The point of Knighthood is to encourage others to excel also... the funding policies of most governments for pure science activities are pretty anti-science right now, so such and "honor" is a bit of an insult. Put some money up to ensure schools will still be able to teach NEW PHD's in physics in 10 years would be more of an honor.

Re:source of knighthood vs source of funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885845)

budgeting priority that's not the queen's fault. Seems rather rude to slap her thanks down for something she's not in charge of.

Then what good is she? Yep, exactly. Titles don't mean anything.

He would always be welcome here (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884309)

http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/ [perimeterinstitute.ca]

They just recently snagged Dr. Neil Turok from Cambridge to serve as the the executive Director - it looks like we will soon have all of England's great physicists

The RIM founder just kicked in another $50 Mil to his pet project:
http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/News/In_The_Media/Mike_Lazaridis_Donates_Additional_$50_Million_to_Perimeter_Institute/ [perimeterinstitute.ca]

I would love to see Dr. Hawking at their monthly public outreach lectures.

Re:He would always be welcome here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884417)

Physics-mon! its you and me
I know its my destiny,
Physics-mon! Oh you're my best friend
in a world we must defend
Physics-mon! a heart so true
Our courage will pull us through,

You teach me and I'll teach you,
Physics-mon! gotta catch'em all

Max Planck use STRING THEORY!
It's not very effective...

I hate when that happens (5, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884327)

He is particularly critical of the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils.
Yeah, I hate it when someone creates a PPARCCCLRC.

Re:I hate when that happens (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884397)

He is particularly critical of the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils.

Yeah, I hate it when someone creates a PPARCCCLRC.
They actually called it STFC. Or was it STFU? I always get those mixed up.

Re:I hate when that happens (4, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884489)

STFC. Depending on who you ask, this means "Swindon Town Football Club" (STFC offices are in Swindon), or "Screw The Fucking Collider".

Re:I hate when that happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885145)

The only reason he was critical of it was that every time he tried to talk about it, his voice synthesiser crashed.

Good for him (4, Interesting)

teslatug (543527) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884353)

This knighthood business is such pomposity, it doesn't belong in the modern era. I have to get permission from a queeen before calling someone Sir?

Re:Good for him (3, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884427)

It's all advertising. Hawking effectively calls more attention to his issues by rejecting the honour than by accepting.
Much wisdom in that ravaged body.

Re:Good for him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885933)

Yea.... advertising..... I feel like buying his latest perfume now I know he doesn't like being called sir......

Could it be the guy just has a spine, and doesn't give a shit about the queen and all of this royal idiocy? No, everyone loves the queen, he must be trying to sell something.....

Re:Good for him (5, Informative)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886073)

It's all advertising. Hawking effectively calls more attention to his issues by rejecting the honour than by accepting.

It is not all advertising. He quietly refused the title ten years ago and this is the first we've heard of it as far as I'm aware. Everything points to this being a point of principle for him, not a means of gaining publicity. I guess you've shown that it sometimes is possible to be too cynical after all.

Re:Good for him (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886191)

I guess you've shown that it sometimes is possible to be too cynical after all.
A fair statement, in my case.

Re:Good for him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884563)

This knighthood business is such pomposity, it doesn't belong in the modern era.

Maybe, but lots of other titles are regularly used. Personally I always found it amusing that US lawyers often use the title of Esq. (Esquire). Esquire is traditionally used to indicate a man by conduct and bearing (but not birth) who is a gentleman.

I have to get permission from a queeen before calling someone Sir?

No, numbnuts. You can call anyone sir. That is called freedom of speech.

But the correct form of address for a knight is to use the honorific "Sir". Do you call your physician "Dr. So-and-so"? Do you say "Senator Obama"? "Reverend Martin Luther King"?

It's the polite thing to do.

But don't worry, the monarch won't chop off your head if you don't use "Sir".

Re:Good for him (5, Interesting)

lattyware (934246) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884989)

Medical Dr. vs Real Dr. is a fun one, as the majority of Medical Doctors, are not actually doctors (don't have a doctorate), and yet people often say that someone who is a doctor, but not a medical doctor, is a fake doctor, which in fact, it's the other way around.

I was told a story about a Pharmacist in a hospital who had his name - 'Dr. Bob Smith' (example) on the door. Now, the hospital forced him to take the Dr off, despite him actually having a doctorate, unlike most of the doctors who have it on their doors in the hospital, because he wasn't a medical doctor and it'd confuse people. I, personally, think that's insane.

Re:Good for him (1)

slimak (593319) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885149)

I have a PhD, but my wife always says jokingly I am not a "Real Doctor" because I cannot treat patients or prescribe meds. I don't know how it is outside the US, but almost everyone outside of academics that I encounter thinks MD when they hear someone is a Doctor.

Re:Good for him (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885655)

He probably could have put his name on the door in a form similar to 'Bob Smith, PhD'.

I believe a lot of MD's business cards say, 'Joe Doc, MD'.

In a hospital, Dr. usually is assumed to imply MD. So it is confusing and if the hypothetical pharmacist uses PhD, no one's ego is improperly damaged.

Just for fun: IAADC (I am a doctoral candidate) :)

Re:Good for him (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23886083)

Medical Dr. vs Real Dr. is a fun one, as the majority of Medical Doctors, are not actually doctors (don't have a doctorate), and yet people often say that someone who is a doctor, but not a medical doctor, is a fake doctor, which in fact, it's the other way around.

Depends. The origin of the word doctor long predates the MD degree.

In Austria, the title for lawyers is Dr.

I am always amused by US lawyers with a JD who think they have a doctorate.

I was told a story about a Pharmacist in a hospital who had his name - 'Dr. Bob Smith' (example) on the door. Now, the hospital forced him to take the Dr off, despite him actually having a doctorate, unlike most of the doctors who have it on their doors in the hospital, because he wasn't a medical doctor and it'd confuse people. I, personally, think that's insane.

Not only would it confuse people, but in many jurisdictions that is the law. Where I live, any idiot can call themselves a Dr., but to call yourself Dr. in a hospital is restricted by law to licensed MDs.

A friend of mine is a licensed RN, and also has a PhD in nursing. When they work in the hospital, they can't use the title Dr., but when teaching classes at the affiliated university, they can use Dr.

Re:Good for him (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884603)

No, but you need permission from the Queen before requiring someone else to call you Sir.

Re:Good for him (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884835)

I have to get permission from a queeen before calling someone Sir?

      No, you can call anyone "Sir", but only the Queen can make it mean anything.

      It's tradition, you know? Although monarchies are now a thing of the past, it was still the only form of government that allowed Europe to survive the endless petty battles and feuds between regional warlords. That constant feuding would have kept us in the dark ages. The concept of the monarch as the overlord with the biggest army (and artillery!) to keep everyone in line brought peace to the lands (and at least confined war to overseas where other people's countries/crops/towns/culture got destroyed instead). That way civilization could begin to flourish.

That's a COVER STORY! (3, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884395)

The truth is that he has fallen out of favour with the government since Torchwood uncovered evidence that he is working with Davros [b3ta.com] .

Personally, I think the government shouldn't be in the business of giving out meaningless awards and I would refuse one on that basis.

Condescending (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23884441)

it to me seems a bit condescending and arrogant for one organization to give out a recognitional award to another. Frankly, if Hawking is the big smart physicist, maybe he's the one that should be giving the recognitions, not the other way around. He's the one with the authority.

How? (2, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884669)

I can see the problem at the ceremony now:

Queen: "Arise Sir Hawking. Errmmmmm".

Re:How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23886305)

That would be "Arise Sir Stephen"...

It is perfectly understandable (3, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884803)

A lot of people are refusing knighthoods, because association with our tired, old absurd Imperial rituals is more of a detriment than a benefit to someone who is already famous in their own right.

The people who tend to accept them are the ones whose careers are on the slide anyway.

Re:It is perfectly understandable (2, Funny)

Myrddin Wyllt (1188671) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885309)

The people who tend to accept them are the ones whose careers are on the slide anyway.

So true. [bbc.co.uk]

Re:It is perfectly understandable (2, Funny)

fyoder (857358) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886207)

A lot of people are refusing knighthoods, because association with our tired, old absurd Imperial rituals is more of a detriment than a benefit to someone who is already famous in their own right.

Not to mention it's not as much fun [youtube.com] as it was in the old days. Now, they don't even give you your own servant with coconut shells.

He is using his knighthood (-1, Flamebait)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 5 years ago | (#23884831)

Am I the only one who find this a bit hypocritical?

When you tell the public that you were offered a knighthood but refused it, you are using this knighthood just as much as if you had accepted it.

Re:He is using his knighthood (1)

iMaple (769378) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885093)

Not really. He did not claim he refused the knighthood to live the life of a recluse. He just doesn't like titles (and I suspect especially titles related to monarchy). Lenon did the same. If more people follow his example, the value of a knighthood will be diminished (and that's not hypocritical, cos he does not believe the knighthood should have a value)

Re:He is using his knighthood (4, Insightful)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885573)

That may have been true if he had done so AT THE TIME. Hawking SILENTLY rejected the knighthood many years ago, but OTHER people have been calling for him to be knighted every year. These constant requests from the public ultimately led to Hawking choosing to end the suspense by just saying that it was HIS OWN decision not to be knighted many years ago and that they can stop pestering the UK government about it.

Hawking - Python = LISP (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885237)

"the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils"

In other news, the British Council For The Renaming Of British Councils Which Sound As If They Were Named By Monty Python (BCFTROBCWSAITWNBMP) was renamed "Betsy". And in the sports news, it was (over 'Ilchester-Ladies-Choir 'Arsenal 3 nil) . . .

The real reason he refused. (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885353)

However, the scientist has released correspondence showing that he was approached with the offer of a knighthood over a decade ago but refused it on principle.
How the hell was he going to wear the suit of armor and pick up the sword you insensitive clods!!!

Ten Years Later... (0, Redundant)

VoxMagis (1036530) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885407)

We just found out about this because it's taken him all this time to finish saying it through his speech box.

Horrible misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885519)

In fact, Hawking was quite enthusiastic of the idea and, practical joker that he is, he wanted to respond to the committee's request with a hearty 'Ni!'. Unfortunately, his synthesizer malfunctioned and out came 'No!'.

I Don't Like Titles Either (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885551)

I think abstracts are much more useful. You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge an article by its abstract.

Smart choice by Prof. Hawking (1)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885625)

To be honest, it's not the best idea to let a 100-year-old woman with a sword near a wheelchair-bound man who has all kinds of sensitive electronic devices around him that keep him alive.

Darthhood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885675)

"Darth Hawking" THAT he may accept. After all, being a Dark Lord actually means he is a expert in 'Dark Energy' :-\

He probably saw.... (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885719)

This [youtube.com] and wanted no part of it.

That's not how Hawking operates (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885739)

Of course he rejected the knighthood. He'll only take a knighthood when someone else gets it, and then he'll call it a Hawkinghood.

Maybe if he... (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 5 years ago | (#23885753)

took the knighthood, his criticisms would hold more weight!? Just guessing...

Oh man, he has a bad attitude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23885805)

... listen there for a sample, dear nerds:
http://mchawking.com/mp3_files/RockOutWithYourHawkOut.mp3 [mchawking.com]

So... (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 5 years ago | (#23886155)

He's more of an anti-elitist, anti-government rebel than Sir Mick Jagger?

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