Thursday, September 13, 2012

Attitudes Towards Left-Handedness; Can It Also Apply Elsewhere?

About 10% of the population is left-handed, including me.  Preference for a particular hand does not emerge in children before age two years.  The formal term for left-handed tendencies is sinistrality, which gives a clue as to how it was viewed at one time.

Four recent Presidents were or are left-handed: Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.  In 2008, Obama's opponent, John McCain, was also left-handed.

At one time, left-handed children were coerced, or at least attempts were made, to coerce them to become right-handed.  I'm glad that's not the case, although we live in a world that is more often engineered for right handers than for lefties.  However, left-handed baseball batters need to take one less step in order to get to first base because they swing into the direction in which they are to run; this might give them a slight edge in getting on base.

There may be some other presumptions of "normality" that go beyond what is warranted, as the cartoon below hints.

Normality is not equivalent to statistical modality.


Hell Hound said...

More artists are left-handed than you would expect due to chance.

The Bastard King of England said...

Iget your point.

Big Sky Heidi said...

I wonder if the opposition to lefthandedness was the result of some twisted esthetic from the 19th century.

Bilbo said...

The term "sinistrality" comes from the Latin word "sinister," which means "left" (as opposed to "dexter," which means "right"). The Latin "sinister" also gives us the English term spelled the same way, which means "evil." There was a very clever adult-type joke hidden in the old "Underdog" cartoons, in which one of the villains was named Simon Bar-Sinister ... in heraldry, a diagonal line on a coat of arms running from upper right to lower left is called a "bar sinister," and symbolizes that the individual is illegitimate (i.e., a bastard). I laughed myself silly when I finally figured that out many years later. I'm just a fountain of useless information ...

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

An excellent post. And an excellent reply by Bilbo.

Mike said...

Just think how sinister an ambidextrous preson is. Hidden sinisterousness.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Bilbo, I see your comments as interesting, useful information.

Mike, you might induce paranoia with that line of thinking.

Heidi, I think it may be in part.

King and Elvis, thank you!

Hell Hound, I wasn't aware of that.

Dianne said...

my son was ambidextrous through most of grammar school
then he was tormented by a teacher who wanted him to only use the right hand and a baseball coach who felt his left hand was so much stronger
the teacher was a bully and by the time I intervened he was already using his right almost exclusively

it amazes me how people feel they need to label and control