Looking for patterns in data is useful because such patterns are often caused by a simple underlying principle, but this isn’t always the case. As an example, consider the story of the the Titus-Bode law.
The central dispute between Galileo and the Church was whether Galileo could assert that the Earth really did move around the Sun (that is, as a scientific fact), or whether he should present the idea as merely a hypothesis. Church officials admitted that Galileo’s observations gave the appearance of moving around the Sun, but argued that appearances could be deceiving.
Did Gervase of Canterbury observe a meteor colliding with the Moon? Probably not, but he did use a scientific approach to study the reports.
In the 1800s, many fields of science were just starting to develop as specialized areas within the general sciences. A lot has changed in 200 years.