Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/492

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spectrum many lines coincident in position with those which these metals would produce; and this hypothesis is greatly strengthened by our knowledge of the remarkable distinctiveness of the particular line of characters observed. But such a fortification of hypothesis is of a deductive kind, and hypothesis may still be probable when such reinforcement is wanting.

There is no greater nor more frequent mistake in practical logic than to suppose that things which resemble one another strongly in some respects are any the more likely for that to be alike in others. That this is absolutely false, admits of rigid demonstration; but, inasmuch as the reasoning is somewhat severe and complicated (requiring, like all such reasoning, the use of A, B, C, etc., to set it forth), the reader would probably find it distasteful, and I omit it. An example, however, may illustrate the proposition: The comparative mythologists occupy themselves with finding points of resemblance between solar phenomena and the careers of the heroes of all sorts of traditional stories; and upon the basis of such resemblances they infer that these heroes are impersonations of the sun. If there be anything more in their reasonings, it has never been made clear to me. An ingenious logician, to show how futile all that is, wrote a little book, in which he pretended to prove, in the same manner, that Napoleon Bonaparte is only an impersonation of the sun. It was really wonderful to see how many points of resemblance he made out. The truth is, that any two things resemble one another just as strongly as any two others, if recondite resemblances are admitted. But, in order that the process of making an hypothesis should lead to a probable result, the following rules must be followed:

1. The hypothesis should be distinctly put as a question, before making the observations which are to test its truth. In other words, we must try to see what the result of predictions from the hypothesis will be.

2. The respect in regard to which the resemblances are noted must be taken at random. We must not take a particular kind of predictions for which the hypothesis is known to be good.

3. The failures as well as the successes of the predictions must be honestly noted. The whole proceeding must be fair and unbiased.

Some persons fancy that bias and counter-bias are favorable to the extraction of truth—that hot and partisan debate is the way to investigate. This is the theory of our atrocious legal procedure. But Logic puts its heel upon this suggestion. It irrefragably demonstrates that knowledge can only be furthered by the real desire for it, and that the methods of obstinacy, of authority, and every mode of trying to reach a foregone conclusion, are absolutely of no value. These things are proved. The reader is at liberty to think so or not as long as the proof is not set forth, or as long as he refrains from examining it. Just so, he can preserve, if he likes, his freedom of opinion in regard to the