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Sampling errors

Aristotle's suspect statistical skills


In his review of Armand Marie Leroi's book The Lagoon (Nature 512, 250–251; 2014), Roberto Lo Presti rightly praises Aristotle's observational skills. But the philosopher may not have been as adroit in numeracy as he was in biology.

Aristotle famously declared that “males have more teeth than females in the case of men, sheep, goats, and swine” (see his History of Animals, Book 2, Part 3). This was an obvious sampling mistake, which bears out the importance today of a strong statistical foundation for biological curricula.

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Correspondence to Taner Z. Sen.

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Sen, T. Aristotle's suspect statistical skills. Nature 513, 315 (2014).

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