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Left and Right Handedness

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    Left and Right HandednessOutlineIntroduction:Left Handedness has had a long history of persecution, reflected in the roots of many words in different languages. Left handed people have historically been forced to perform activities with their less dominant (right) hand. Religion also continues these superstitions by the Bible’s symbolic use of “right” as a synonym for “righteous”.

    Left handedness has been negatively associated with witchcraft and ignorance.  Left handed individuals are at a disadvantage in modern culture. Most sports are designed specifically for right handed athletes. Some people can become “ambidextrous”.

    There are many famous left handed people throughout history who have proven that left handedness is not an inherent disadvantage but rather a cultural disadvantage.  Body:                         Disadvantages of left handedness are apparent in every day life. Examples include the written English language, school desks with a swivel arm and the right hand orientation of three ring notebooks and spiral notebooks. Left Handedness is also detrimental in sports because most of the athletes tend to be right handed.

    Baseball is an example of a sport that was conceived with right handed players in mind but that also provides the left handed athlete with an advantage in some situations such as the “switch hitter”. “Ambidextrousness”, the ability to use both hands equally, is often learned by left handed people in order to adapt to a right hand oriented world. There are many famous left handed people who prove that outdated, historical notions about left handedness are based in fear and superstition rather than science. Conclusion:                Left handed individuals in modern society have a slightly more options that those in past cultures, but not much.

    The past persecution and demonization of left handedness is apparent in the roots of modern words.There are now companies that produce items made specifically for left handed people, but many left handed individuals tend to adapt to the culture and manage to use the less dominant hand. There is scientific research that supports a link between left handedness and some neurological illnesses, but not between left handedness and creativity or intelligence. Graphic:          “How Your Brain is Organized”About 10% of all people in the world are left-handed (Hardyck).

    According to a studypublished in BioMed Central, left-handedness is more common in Eastern European and Asian descendants than Western European and African descendants (biomedcentral). Left-handers as a historical group have been persecuted throughout the course of history and have been the subject of many superstitions and common phrases still used today.A technical term for left-handedness is “sinistral”. It comes from the word “sinister”, or evil, which is based upon the Latin word for “left”.

    The opposite of “left” is obviously “right”, which is associated with correctness and “righteousness” in many languages such as English, German, Dutch and French. Throughout the history of many societies left-handedness was considered not only a disadvantage, but also had other social stigmas attached with it. Left handed people were considered unlucky and awkward, or even accused of being witches simply for using their left hand more than their right. Beginning in the medieval ages, the left hand was associated with black magic, wizardry and witchcraft, while the right hand was associated with God and justice.

    In the Bible, the blessed were always seated at God’s right hand. In ancient Chinese society, it was actually considered a crime for left-handed people not to learn how to become right-handed. In that culture, left was considered the wrong path and had similar stigmas as in many Western cultures.In modern societies, left-handers may not be intentionally discriminated against but they are at a disadvantage in many day-to-day activities.

    Important controls in cars such as the stick shift and emergency break are on the right side of the driver which forces lefties to use their less dominant hand. Scissors are also notoriously unforgiving to the left-handed user. The classroom also tends to cater to right handed people. Swivel desks that are attached to chairs are primarily on the right side of the student leaving lefties without a surface to rest their arm while writing.

    Three-ring binders are built for right handed users as well as spiral notebooks. The way English is written is also not designed for left handed people since the palm tends to “smudge” the freshly written ink or lead. Many left handed people have learned to adapt to this by hovering their entire hand over the page or by writing on a tilted page.Sports also cater to right handed athletes, even down to the equipment.

    For instance, throughout most of the history of baseball it would have been very difficult to find a left handed catcher’s mitt because left handed catchers were discouraged. Since most of the batters are right handed, a catcher throwing the ball with his left hand would have the batter in his way most of the time, often preventing an accurate throw in the case of a base-stealing runner. However, left handed players do have a decided advantage over their right handed counterparts because a left handed batter stands on the right side of the plate, closer to first base which sometimes results in a base hit whereas a right handed batter would have been out by half a step. Professional Polo rules state that a player may not hold the stick in his or her left hand.

    Some people are equally capable of using their left and right hands. This is called being, “ambidextrous”. People who are ambidextrous often have a slight advantage, especially in sports since a switch-hitter can be a very valuable asset to a team. However, many people who are only right or left handed take part in ambidextrous activities such as juggling and playing musical instruments.

    Learning how to play nearly any musical instrument requires the coordinated use of both hands. While there are cases of one-handed drummers such as Def Leppard’s Rick Allen, or guitar players who use only their feet, these cases are very rare and are often the result of adapting to an accident.Some people believe there is a link between left-handedness and creativity or intelligence. Although there have not been studies that conclusively prove this, by looking at important historical figures there is a striking number of left handed people.

    Left handed artists include Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Raphael and Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” television shows. Left handedness is also common in musicians. 50 Cent, Kurt Cobain, Eminem, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan are only a few of the famous left handed musicians.The most common “treatment” of left handedness today is simply learning how to use the right hand.

    In most cases, left handed people learn to adapt to right handed culture through repeated use of their less dominant hand, although there are now companies that market products for left handed people. Left handed people are still at a disadvantage in many activities despite the recent effort of our culture to include them. This shows that history has continuously been inclined to accommodate right handers. Aside from superstition, there is little scientific evidence suggesting that left handedness is naturally inferior to right.

    However, in a study published by Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, left handedness is often present in cases of dyslexia, autism, epilepsy and Down’s Syndrome (Batheja). In order to dispel the many myths and superstitions surrounding left handedness, more scientific research must be done which may provide relief to left handed people around the world.                                Works Cited  Batheja, M., & McManus, I.

    C. (1985). “Handedness in the mentally handicapped,”Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 27, 63–68. “Assessment: Table 2,” BioMed Central.

    2007.     2474/4/3/table/T2 (17 Apr 2007) Hardyck, C.

    , & Petrinovich, L. F. (1977). “Left-handedness,” Psychological Bulletin, 84, 385–404.

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