There are already several websites devoted to handedness and, in particular, to left-handedness. Do we really need another? Possibly not. Except that this one is written by a right-hander.
Websites on handedness are usually written BY left-handers FOR left-handers. It seems to me that most (although not all) of the existing websites and blogs fit into one of two categories:
- Treatises on how difficult life is for left-handers, and how they are victimized and discriminated against.
- Treatises on how left-handers are superior beings, more intelligent, more creative, more empathetic, etc, etc .
By no means all of what is claimed in these websites is false. But there seemed to me to be a worrisome lack of perspective, objectivity and context in many of them. Some are merely sloppy with the facts; some, however, are downright misleading.
I find the whole concept of handedness fascinating, so I thought I would dig into some of the theory, research, opinions and fictions, in order to better understand the reality of the phenomenon, and to try, as far as possible, to separate fact from fiction, research from opinion, truth from myth.
As simple as that sounds in principle, the practice turned out not to be quite so straightforward. Little of the research is clear-cut in its conclusions and, although theories abound, none appears to be definitive. Despite extensive, at times even frantic, research, the whole subject of handedness remains frustratingly enigmatic.
What I have learned about it, though, is intriguing, and this website is a distillation of my own (second-hand) research. It explores some of the facts about handedness, explodes some myths, and encounters some propositions that hover disconcertingly between the two. On the journey, it looks at what handedness really is, the difficulties in measuring handedness, the best estimates of statistics on handedness, how handedness is related to the brain, how handedness has developed thoughout history and across religions, and a whole slew of other handedness issues ranging from writing and language, intellect, artistic and musical ability, politics, leadership, combat and sport, as well as health and social issues.
I have also, like so many other websites, included a list of famous left-handers throughout history, although I was initially in two minds about doing so. However, I like to think that I have put in a little more due dilligence than many websites and blogs, and it turns out on closer examination that many (even most) of the famous lefties so often included in lists of this kind are either definitively not left-handed or at the very least their handedness is uncertain.
This is not a scholarly work or an academic paper, so I have not included full references and attributions, although I have mentioned the main authors of many of the studies mentioned, and included a Sources page (the books in particular have detailed references to source materials for further investigations).
Please also bear in mind that I am not an expert - not an evolutionary biologist, a developmental psychologist, or even a scientist of any kind - merely an interested by-bystander, so to speak. If, however, you find any serious errors or misconceptions in what I present here, I would be glad to hear from you. But, please, no rants, no personal anecdotes, and no unsubstantiated opinions.