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December 17, 1982

Aristotle's Anomaly

JAMA. 1982;248(23):3095. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330230017011

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To the Editor.—  Intrigued by the description of Aristotle's anomaly in The Journal (1982;248:89), I set out to confirm his observation.My initial assumption was that the index and middle fingers should be crossed. I did this both ways and inserted the pencil between the shafts of the fingers and between the tips of the fingers (except that I could not get a pencil between the tip of my index and middle finger when the index finger was on top). I did not feel two pencils.I then crossed my thumb and index finger in both directions and inserted a pencil in various positions and again felt only one pencil. The following three possibilities come to mind:

  1. 1. Aristotle's observation may not have been accurate. In fact, one might question whether a pencil was available to him, since the Encyclopaedia Britanica reports they were first invented in 1565.

  2. 2. I