§17. The Method of Residual Phenomena

98. The so-called »method of residual phenomena« is so simple that it hardly calls for any remark. At any early stage of science when there are few observations of a given matter, and those rough ones, a law is made out which, when the observations come to be increased in number and made more accurate, is found not to hold exactly. The departures from this law are found themselves to follow a law which may now be shown to be true. But at a still later date it is found that this law again is interfered with, that there are still more minute departures from it, and these departures are again found to follow a law. All the successive laws so found may be real, or they may be merely empirical formulae. . . .

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