adaptation of conditions

D. F. McKenzie. “Printers of the Mind: Some Notes on Bibliographical Theories and Printing-House Practices.Studies in Bibliography 22 (1969).

…if I were to give this paper an epigraph, it might well be that quoted by Sir Karl Popper from Black’s Lectures on the Elements of Chemistry published in 1803: ‘A nice adaptation of conditions will make almost any hypothesis agree with the phenomena. This will please the imagination, but does not advance our knowledge.’ Our ignorance about printing-house conditions in the 17th and 18th centuries has left us disastrously free to devise them according to need; and we have at times compounded our errors by giving a spurious air of ‘scientific’ definitiveness to our conclusions.

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