Welcome to "Being Left-Handed." Whether you're left-handed, right-handed, no-handed, or ambidextrous, I hope you'll find something of interest to you here.
Being left-handed... gives me a razor-thin view of what it's like to be a minority. As a left-hander, I'm discriminated against all the time. Not for serious things: I am not denied housing, medical care, a job, a seat on the bus. But I experience anti-lefty bias in the form of school desks that are unusable, carrot peelers that are useless, power tools (such as skill saws) that are dangerous or even life-threatening, pens that smear and make my writing illegible, computer mice that cause hand cramps. Teachers in England tried to force me to write with my right hand when I was a child; I used to stutter, and perhaps that was why.
Language certainly discriminates against the left-hander: A "left-handed compliment" is not something you want to hear; the word for "left" in French is gauche, and in Latin it's sinister; in contrast, from the French word for "right," droit, we get the English word adroit, and Latin for right is dexter (from which we get such words as dexterous). Ambidextrous means literally "both right."
Am I "in my right mind"? Current research can't prove whether or not lefties really do tend towards right-brain dominance. Would right-sphere specialization explain why I think of myself as creative? I would swear being left-handed helps my Tetris scores (thanks to all that visualization of abstract geometric shapes, which we lefties are famous for).
Who would I be if I was right-handed? Not the same person. Left-handedness is part of my identity, my self. I would sooner cut off my right arm than be converted to right-handedness; as strong a statement as that is, left-handedness is so integral a part of me that I could not imagine living otherwise.
And is it only simple coincidence that I am politically left-winged as well as so strongly left-handed? (Probably.)
People are also left-footed and right-footed. Usually one eye is stronger than the other, so people can be left-eyed and right-eyed. And even stranger: pay close attention to your friends' faces. Really stare at them, watch closely when their lips curve into smiles. You'll see that people are almost always strongly left-faced or right-faced. One side is usually much more expressive than the other. In fact, if you mirror the two sides of a person's face to create a left-composite and a right-composite, you'll find yourself looking at two completely different people.
Now that you've read my opinions, it's your turn... I've received several comments from readers about their own experiences. I invite you to submit your own comments as well.
(I am very behind on updating your submissions: but rest assured that I do read everything and will post your public comments when I have time. I've now received hundreds of submissions that I haven't added yet; sorry -- I'm very busy at the moment, but promise that I'll post them when I can.)
I find that almost everyone who is interested in left-handedness is left-handed. Right-handed people take their dominance for granted; it's us lefties who are the ones usually looking for more information.
Here are some links that are of interest to left-handed people (or sympathetic right-handers). As you can see, there's no shortage of left-handed home pages and Internet sites. Viewpoints expressed on these sites (especially the humor ones) do not reflect my own opinions.
Carla MacInnis is looking for information linking handedness and mental illness. Her two letters are well worth reading.
The question I am asked most frequently is whether or not handedness is genetic. Dr. Amar J.S. Klar, Ph.D., argues that a single gene determines handedness (although it's complicated, because there are random factors). If you don't mind some technical language, read Dr. Klar's homepage, which briefly discusses his team's discovery and includes some bibliographic information. (Dr. Klar's office is also recruiting test families to participate in a study.)
Lorin's Left-handedness Site has a huge amount of useful information, backed by actual research; it's by Lorin Elias, a graduate student in Psychology at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Check to see if your question is answered there first. It's a great site. The original research on the origins of handedness is a particular highlight.
Two interesting arguments: That left-handedness is not associated that closely with left-sidedness (and apparently only 57% of left-handers are also left-eyed); and stuttering and hand-switching may not be related at all (although the research can't disprove it, and Lorin seems to be of two minds about this one).
A treasure trove of scientific articles can be found in the Medline database's handedness section. Of particular interest are the Halpern and Coren articles, which assert that left-handers may have increased mortality (a theory that is hotly contested). Note that this a summary and bibliography only; to read the actual articles, get thee to a library.
Primate Handedness and Brain Lateralization is a very readable scientific site by M.K. Holder, covering some myths and research about Brain Lateralization in Primates (including humans).
Creation of the Sinister: Biological Contributions to Left-Handedness is an article on the causes of left-handedness and the links between left-handedness and various problems. This article, by Monica Watkins, is part of the Harvard Undergraduate Society for Neuroscience's BRAIN project.
New Findings on the Frequency of Left- and Right-Handedness in Mediaeval Britain is a fairly self-explanatory title for this scientific article. This paper is by James Steele (Dept of Archaeology, University of Southampton) and Simon Mays (Ancient Monuments Lab, English Heritage).
Differences in Brain Laterality Between Males and Females Produce Different Patterns of Perceptual Interference by Kyle R. Cave and Heather Davidson is a brief article, two experiments and an explanation about perception differences in men and women caused by differences in the biology of our brain hemispheres.
Laterality is a psychology journal dedicated to lefthandedness (I hope they put up a Web site eventually). Volume I, Issue 1 appeared in March 1996, but I don't know anything more about it.
DNA is right-handed. However, it's easy for an artist in a hurry to accidentally draw DNA backwards, or for an editor on deadline to mirror an image. An embarrassing mistake, to be sure. In the Left Handed DNA Hall of Fame, Tom Schneider has collected a humorous list of well-known scientific journals and publications that have gotten DNA backwards. (There's also some interesting Molecular Information available at this site.)
Handedness and Cerebral Dominance is a short "Neuro Pearl" by S. Clifford Schold, Jr, MD, Cullum Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurology, UT Southwestern on the topic of Handedness and Cerebral Dominance.
From Cornell, an essay On Teaching Left-Handed Children to Write by Dexter Kozen is worth reading. (Warning: Plain text for this article is not available; so you might have some difficulty reading this.) Ironic that his name is "Dexter"...
There's a very short article on Dexterous early hominids available from the Mesa Community College site (but it doesn't say who wrote the article). It documents a claim that I've never seen proven, that humans are the only animal with strong handedness.
I recommend Lucas Pereira's excellent personal reflections and observations on Lefthandedness.
The Lesbian of Darkness is author Joel Rosenberg's thoughtful essay exploring homophobia, by theorizing a world in which left-handedness had the same stigma as being a lesbian.
Along the same lines, My Brother is Left Handed makes the same point in a different way. Oops, it's missing (8/98).
Left-Handers in Society is a very long set of pages on M.K. Holder's site (see above). You'll find a lot of fascinating comments from left-handed people on the subjects of how parents and teachers can work with left-handed children as well as how employers can work with left-handed employees.
Jose presents some of the problems left-handers have in Joses Best Hand.
This off-hand excerpt from the Nausicaa mailing list (a mailing
list discussing Japanese Anime) has some interesting tidbits
about attitudes in Japan
regarding left- and right-handedness:
left hand, right hand (Igor V Boronenkov)
Re: left hand, right hand (Hikaru)
Re: left hand, right hand (Dwayne Fujima)
Re: left hand, right hand (Ryoko Toyama).
The essay A Plea for the Horizontally Organized (by John Perry) is only obliquely related to left-handedness, but still interesting, since it shows a different worldview that mirrors the alternate thinking that often characterizes a left-handed approach.
Details on a recent (8-Aug-97) NPR Talk of the Nation Science Friday broadcast on left-handedness are available.
If you can play RealAudio, you can hear the show, which includes an interview with Dr. Klar on his research and a general discussion of handedness. Go to the Talk of the Nation RealAudio Archive. The discussion is about half an hour.
(My thanks to Spence, who posted about this in alt.lefthanders. Spence wrote: "On this page, select the Talk of the Nation: Science Friday (entire program) link at the top of the page. To locate the lefty segment of the show, click and drag the RealAudio slider to the right until the counter in the lower right corner of the player indicates 1:15:00.")
Gerald McMullon collects some very interesting left-handed articles from old newspapers at his Articles on Left-handedness collection.
CHANCE News excerpts from a brief Star Tribune article by staff writer Lewis Cope entitled "Where Have All the Lefties Gone?" (detailing investigation into the comparative life spans of left-handers and right-handers).
H.A. Loudermilk, opinion editor of the Daily Aztec, presents a strong editorial opinion on the superiority of left-handers in Left-handers do it right.
My Left Hand is a very short poem by the famous Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanik (1914-1950). This poem is translated from Turkish by Murat Nemet-Nejat.
The Left-hand Turn Game by Bill New is a hypertextual fiction work.
As seen in the Religious Humor mailing list, here's a parody essay called Dextera Domini: The Declaration on the Pastoral Care of Left-Handed Persons (written anonymously and formatted by Elizabeth Knuth). This essay ridicules a too-common attitude: the religious condemnation of homosexuality. It's easy to be fooled into thinking that you're reading a genuine religious rant, but the tone is way too over the top for that...or is it? This could be a nightmarish, 1984-like view of the future for left-handed people.
Do you watch the Simpsons? How closely? Dave Hall presents his summary of Left/Right Handed Simpsons.
A Hand Preference Questionnaire is available at the M.K. Holder's Primate Handedness and Brain Lateralization site.
The other handedness surveys seem to have disappeared. If you find any, please let me know.
Rosemary West's Left-Handed Page has the most comprehensive set of links out there. (My list came first, but hers is better!)
Wai-Hang Lam has a detailed personal homepage about Left-handedness available, with his own interesting experience as well as a handedness test. Lots of sub-pages.
Also worth checking out is My Left-Hander's Page by Andrea Bieraugel.
From the Netherlands, it's Rik Smits' The Left-Handed Universe... A comprehensive site from an author of left-handed books. Graphical browser required; graphics-intensive site. (Also available in Dutch and German.)
Janis Cortese's comprehensive and outspoken For SouthPaws Only is also full of information, including some excellent essays, another list of famous lefties, and some places to buy left-handed merchandise.
Peter E. Johnson, the "Left-Handed Patriot," has created the Left Handed Homepage to list some home pages of lefties at Gustavus Adolphus College, as well as some left-handed folks from around the world.
Jerry Stearns has some information on Lefthander's Day. which is every August 13. Jerry also lists some information about Lefthander magazine and some other useful info. (There's another brief tidbit about Lefthander's Day available.)
A page for lefthanders is by Matthijs Vleesch du Bois, in the Netherlands. Let's keep that global awareness of left-handedness going... Matthijs has a list of left-handed celebrities (with a Dutch and Flemish emphasis) and a list of left-handed links.
In Treker L's Left Handed Page, "Treker L" presents some facts and comments about left-handedness, and a quick handedness test.
S. Niemann has an attractively-presented list of left-handed resources at Nobody Likes Lefties!.
There's a left-handed person living in Singapore named Tommy K who has some left-handed links and briefly describes what it's like to be left-handed in Singapore (a lot of dirty looks, apparently).
"Tellim Harobed" has a lefthand page with a brief poem and some useful links. ("Tellim Harobed" is really Deborah Millet...)
Sinistra09 has a unique left-handed page called The Lefty Page, including another list of left-handed celebrities and some facts (with some etymology to come).
Bramble has a page called LeftOvers that might freak you out at first...but don't panic, keep reading. Some links and some businesses that I don't have here, as well as a great Beatles theme and a novel approach.
Some random left-handed facts are available from Steve Schrader's Don't Feel Left Out - Left Handed Thoughts.
Maryalena's page has a left-handed section with a list of left-handed celebrities and some left-handed links, called The Left Zone.
The Left Hand Home Page by L.H. Jones is only a little bit about left-handedness; it's just that this person's login name is "lfthnd." Follow L.H.'s links for conservative (i.e., right-wing) sites.
The Secret Society of Left Handers hosted by "Lord Byron C" (who has several "Pages for Lefties" on his home page, Byron's World) is a secret society. Not for right-handed people... The SSLH has quite a few interesting newsletters (edited by Chade Hjelle).
Speaking of left-handed golfers...I don't golf, but if I did, I could go to The Left Handed Golfer to buy some equipment that I could actually use.
The Left Hand claims to be "Your National Source for Left-Handed Products" and they offer books, computer accessories, gifts, sports equipment, tools and much more.
Colorado Boomerang's How to Boomerang mentions the fact they always have left-handed boomerangs for sale.
The Left Hand Brewing Company is certainly a unique name for these brewmeisters (I hope someone there is actually left-handed).
Now there's Southpaw, where you can buy guitars, amps, accessories and books. Did I mention the guitars were for left-handers?
Speaking about left-handed guitars, check out Lefty's Left Handed Guitar Chord Book.
If you've ever needed a left-handed corkscrew and wondered where you could buy one, wonder no more: Donald A. Bull's Corkscrews for Lefthanders to the rescue.
My favorite buddy is Buddy The Left Handed Worm (a children's book by Norman Robertson that says it's all right to be different).
Contour Design, Inc., has designed left-handed computer mice in several sizes.
Southpaw Enterprises sells a number of goods, such as left-handed circular saws, kitchen knives, scissors, novelties, and so forth.
And finally: Southpaw Pineapple is a company that sells various gift items and tools for left-handed people.
The following people link to this page and I'm returning the favor. In many cases, there are other left-handed links listed; I try to include EVERY left-handed resource here, but there may be sites listed that I haven't found yet. I'm amazed by how global this list is (Finland, Japan, Canada).
Sami Viskari in Finland links here on Wiscar's linkpage.
The Zwick Family Home Page apparently proves that there are some left-handed members of the Zwick family.
Mark Smiley's Home Page (on AOL) has a left-handed section.
Kirby's Home Page (in Canada) is lefty-aware.
Simon's links (in Germany) has some useful travel and other links in "Sites for Sore Eyes."
I don't speak German, but I'm hazarding that "Linkshänder" means "Left-Hander," and on the Internet Center Marl - Interessantes zum Start page there's a link here by that title.
Please let me know if there's another good home page or left-handed resource that I've missed; also, please inform me if one these links is broken -- although I do my best, it's hard to keep up with changes sometimes. Thanks!
Also, I'd be happy to link back to you, if you let me know. It sometimes takes me a few weeks to get around to updating this page, so please be patient if you don't hear from me right away.
I do my best to answer questions that are sent to me, but I'm not a scientist and I don't know about any research or store that isn't listed on this page. Although rumored, I've never been able to find out about scholarships for left-handed people and believe that there's no such thing. Good luck!
Thanks for reading!
I created this page in early 1995 when I was creating some
[Facts About Me]
This page is one of my most popular, often receiving hundreds of visitors a day.