The left-handed club: all 10% of us

Barack Obama signing with his left hand

Barack Obama signing Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, also known as "Kerry-Lugar-Berman," with his left hand. Photo from The White House Flickr photostream

Since The New York Times published On the Left Hand, There Are No Easy Answers, it reminds me again about all the little things on being left-handed in a right-handed world.

The article’s point: Scientists still don’t know what causes people to be left-handed, but we are different.

One of the most notable differences between right-handiness and left-handiness  is the location of the language center of the brain. For righties, it’s on the left side of the brain. For lefties, it can be left, right or shared between the two halves.

Left handers are only about 10% or 11% of the world population — a number that seems small to me. I work in the media, and typically see more than a 10% representation.

With 90% of the world right handed, it’s little suprise they don’t see how so much is right-hand oriented. But when I hand them my left-handed scissors, they can barely use it. It gives them a glimpse of how the world of a left-handed person.

Actually, left-handed scissors are hard for me to use, because I spent so many years using right-handed scissors before I bought these.

Language shows how left handers were viewed in the past: sinister, gauche and left-handed compliment, for example. And if you do something correct, you do it right.

Certain power tools, such as circular saws, are strongly oriented against left-handed users as are many musical instrument and the design of many guns favor right handers. I remember a set of pots with “convenient” pour spouts — convenient only if you held the pot in your right hand.

I was so used to sitting in right-handed school desks that I felt uncomfortable in the few left-handed desks I was able to use.

The mouse on most PCs is designed for right handers. I’ve always appreciated Macs for not as strong favoring right handed users. My mouse is almost always to the left of my keyboard. I’ll move it to the right side to avoid muscle fatigue.

I’m not 100% left-handed. I throw and bat right, write left (hook style), eat left, shoot left, and  hold a phone with the left hand.  When using a hand saw, I use my left hand. I start hammering with the left hand, but switch to the right hand when I get tired.

According to Wikipedia’s entry on left-handiness, five of the last seven presidents were left handed, including Barack Obama. The others were: Bill Clinton, George H. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Recent candidates John McCain, Ross Perot and Bob Dole were also left handed.

Indiana University has a list of Famous Left-Handers, including authors, actors and athletes. There’s also a survey for left-handers by M.K. Holder, who is with the Handedness Research Institute.



Comments are closed.