The NYSun perpetuates Bertrand Russell’s calumny against Aristotle, the original champion of empirical science, as having “a bewildering contempt for observation” in writing that men have more teeth than women [“Wake Me When It’s Over,” Adam Kirsch, June 23, 2004].

What Aristotle wrote was, “Males have more teeth than females in the case of men, sheep, goats, and swine; in the case of other animals observations have not yet been made…”

Now sheep, goats, pigs and humans (among others) all have varying numbers of teeth at different times of life. Furthermore, primitive societies are afflicted by tooth wear, dental disease and tooth loss, with women affected more than men, owing partly to the effects of pregnancy and lactation (especially if calcium is deficient).

When Aristotle counted Mrs. Aristotle’s teeth, then, it is unlikely that he found the same number as in his own mouth.

As scholar William Ogle wrote in 1882,

“A very large proportion… of [Aristotle’s] supposed mistakes have no other ground than the careless mode in which his writings have been studied…. [This is] the same man who had noted the heart beating in the embryonic chick… on the third day of incubation; who had distinguished the allantoidean development of birds and reptiles from the non-allantoidean development of fishes; who had unravelled with fair accuracy the arrangement of the bronchial tubes and their relation to the pulmonary blood-vessels; and who had not only given zoological and anatomical details concerning the cephalopods… but had described nine species of them ‘with so much precision and happy a selection of their distinctive characters as to enable modern naturalists to identify pretty nearly all.'”

Were it not for Aristotle, we would still be living in the Dark Ages.

The magnitude of his achievement deserves our respect and homage.

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