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Left-handiness issues Left-handiness issues
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-08-13 09:11:26
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Left handed my self and victim of bulling even from teachers when I was young – 60s was not always sex and drugs and rock & roll. As a result even though I do everything with my left hand I write with my right thanks to “progressional” teachers who believed that only the …sinners write with their left hand and using their “educational rod” on my palms they forced me to use my right hand! Is a wander why I didn’t give up school in the third grade!

However 13th of August is the Lefthanders Day and a good chance to learn some things about lefthanders.

left01_400Left-handedness is the preference for the left hand over the right for everyday activities such as writing. Most left-handed people exhibit some degree of ambidexterity. Left-handedness is relatively uncommon; 90 to 93 percent of the adult population is right-handed.

In Britain, a study in the 1970s found that around 11 percent of men and women aged 15–24 were left-handed, compared to just 3 percent in the 55-64 age category. The study suggests that 'cultural pressures' for right-hand use were prevalent in the industrial societies in the 18th and 19th centuries (with the advancement of mass literacy), and that those pressures were only significantly relaxed in the 'later decades' of the 20th century. The study also refers to tests on medieval skeletons that show evidence of hand-usage similar to todays, which suggests that hand-prejudice was not always part of UK society.

left02_400Right-Hand, Left-Hand author Chris McManus also suggests a number of factors that may have led to the modern increase in left-hand usage:

In adulthood, left-handers were often shunned by society, resulting in fewer marrying and reproducing
As prejudice declined in the 20th century, the number of natural left-handers who stayed left-handed increased
left03_400
The rising age of motherhood contributed as, statistically, older mothers are more likely to give birth to left-handed children.]

Statistics show that older people are less likely to be left-handed than their younger counterparts — the percentages of left-handed people sharply drop off with increased age. In the U.S., 12 percent of 20 year olds are left-handed, while only 5 percent of 50 year olds and less than 1 percent of people over 80 are.
A study published in 1991 claimed that these statistics indicate that left-handed people's lifespan are shorter than those of their right-handed counterparts by as much as 9 years. The authors suggested that this may be the result of left-handed people being more likely to die in accidents as a result of their "affliction", which renders them clumsier and ill-equipped to survive in a right-handed world. Many subsequent studies have shown no evidence that left-handed people have reduced longevity compared to right-handed people.
left05_400
According to Stanley Coren in The Left-Hander Syndrome, most people were only forced to write with their right hand and allowed to continue being left-handed in most other respects indicating that the decline in older left-handers is not from being forced or switching in later life.

Dory Previn wrote a song in which she explains that she was born left-handed but nuns in her school "broke her out of it"; later in life, she went back to using her left hand she said "I went back to using my left, my natural hand", and discovered her musical talent, among other things.

Historically, the justification of forcing use of the right-hand was in part due to the difficulty left-handers had writing with liquid ink or fountain pens. When writing with these pens, the side of the left-hander's hand would smear the writing as it passed over the still-wet ink. While not asleft04 prone to this, modern ballpoint pens do not entirely eliminate this smudging. Writing in pencil also smudges the graphite as the hand passes over what has just been written. A simple solution to smudging and hook-hand writing is to rotate the writing paper about 20 degrees clockwise. An ink pen also has its nib cut or folded at a slight angle. If a left-handed user tries to use a regular ink pen the nib will be at the wrong angle and its corner will scratch or dig into the paper on the up stroke and flick ink over the page, unless one is particularly careful when writing.

Left-handed people are sometimes placed at a disadvantage by the prevalence of right-handed tools in society. Many tools and devices are designed to be comfortably used with the right hand. For example, (right-handed) scissors, a very common tool, are arranged so that the line being cut along can be seen by a right-handed user, but is obscured to a left-handed user. Furthermore, the handles are often moulded in a way that is difficult for a left-hander to hold, and extensive use in such cases can lead to varying levels of discomfort. Most importantly, the scissoring or shearing action - how the blades work together (how they are attached at the pivot) - operates correctly for a right-hander, but a left-hander will tend to force the blades apart rather than shearing the target substance. So-called ambidextrous scissors do not help, since the cutting blades are still set right-handed.
left06
It can be difficult for left-handed children to learn to write if the teacher does not take the student's left-handedness into account. In fact, even in the later 20th century, some UK schools were discouraging children from writing with their left hand, often seriously affecting the child's development (Hansard 1998). When properly done, left-handed writing is a mirror image to that of the right-hander, making the teaching process confusing for the right-handed teacher of a left-handed student. In the US, some chairs were equipped with writing boards on the right side only, contributing to this behaviour. The result is that many left-handed children learn to write with their hand curled around the pen so that it can meet the paper at the same angle as the right-hander and also to account for the front page of notebooks and binders, as the books open so you write on the right side, which puts the binding on the left side, inhibiting the left hand from writing freely. Once this habit is formed, it is difficult to break. This curling of the hand results in the heel of the palm being placed behind the writing, forcing the writer to lift it off the paper and making the grip even more awkward. In addition, constantly lifting and replacing the hand over fresh ink often causes smudging, causing problems for many left-handed students, especially in exam situations. When the left hand is held correctly, it is below the writing, as is typical for right-handers.

 


     
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ap2009-08-13 14:42:57
Left-handed? So were Leonardo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Paul Klee, Munch, Bach, Rachmaninoff, Van Gogh (it is believed) and most characters in the Caravaggios are left-handed. That's the best answer.


John2009-08-13 18:26:00
Lefties always seem to feel compelled to list famous Lefties! Can somebody compile a list of famous Righties!


ap2009-08-19 15:11:57
No, but I'm a rightie listing lefties - is that rare?


Asa2009-08-20 09:09:22
Probably not as rare as lefties listing righties!


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