Saturday, 5 January 2013

What's left or right about it?

Left handed, right handed, or even ambidextrous, there's no left or right about it. It just is. Studies reveal that 10 to 12 per cent of the general population is left handed. Why isn't this a higher percentage, considering that the odds should be 50 percent that a person with two arms would either write with their left or their right hand?

rocky - rocky photoThere are many sports where being left handed has the advantage. In boxing, the opponent is expecting jabs from the right, not from the left. Left handed boxers and baseballers are called 'southpaws'. The term Southpaw stems from baseball though it is most often herard in reference to boxing. Sylvester Stallone really put 'southpaws' on the map with his Rocky movies becuase the actor is left handed. Many cricketers bowl left handed and this adds a different spin to the ball, often critical in getting the batter out. Baseball is another sport where left handed pitching and batting causes a different shift in the way the ball swings. Babe Ruth is just one of hundereds of left handed baseballers. Fencing is also another sport where the opponent isn't used to playing against someone left handed.

It hasn't always been okay to be left handed. There has often been a fear against people who used their left hand, many were accused of withcraft. Centuries ago, the Catholic Church declared that left hand people were servants of the devil. And in some societies, eating with the left hand is considered a sin, or making a toast with the wine glass in the left hand will bring bad luck.

Left handed people get a rough deal when it comes to superstitions. Perhaps one superstition which goes a long way to explaining what scientists can't is the superstition that if a baby is nursed in the left arm of the mother, the baby will grow up right handed, and if a baby is nursed in the right arm, then it'll be left handed. Twins, Gloria and Glenn, are respectively left handed and right handed. Their father, Frank, was left handed growing up, but the nuns at his school used a ruler on him every time he wrote with his left hand so he learned to write with his right hand instead.

Tom Cruise at event of ValkyrieSome famous left handed people are Leonardo Di Vinci (though supposedly Da Vinci wrote with his left and right hand and sometimes simultaneously), Tom Cruise, Pierce Brosnan, David Bowie, Eminem, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, and Prince William. The largest collective group of famous people who are left handed are actors, which leads credence to the theory that many left handed people are more creative, because they utilize the right side - the creative side - of the brain.

Most lefties are ambidextrous - they need to be because so many gadgets are designed and built for right handed people. Yet not all right handed people can use their left hand as capably as their right.

Kids who are left handed can suffer greatly in school because of right handed desks, scissors, and even the act of writing. Most languages are written from left to write, so left handed kids have to twist their hands and write in what is called a 'crab' style. Pens, pencil sharpeners, even the computer mouse which is on the right side of the computer...all these things can hinder a child's education, yet because the number of lefties is so small, 10 to 12 percent of the the general population, they slip through the cracks.

There are many shops these days that cater exclusively for left handed people. The most famous is the fictional store The Leftorium that Ned Flanders opened up during the third episode of The Simpsons. The reason it went out of business was due to a wish that Homer made, but there really are successful stores dedicated to providing products for lefties.

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