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#1
Old 03-05-2004, 07:27 PM
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Are left-handed people disabled?

During a discussion at work yesterday about the difficulties of being a leftie, one of my co-workers stated that " I actually consider myself disabled." That gave me pause.

Being a leftie is difficult, and you have to do a hell of a lot of adapting so you can use even the most common of objects, but disabled? I can do anything a right-handed person can do, with the exception of drive the stick-shift Saturn my dad had while I was high school (however, I cut my right hand quite badly as a preteen, and they were concerned about nerve damage, so it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s weaker than it ought to be.) If I think about it at all, I think of myself as "inconvenienced" or, when something's really frustrating to use, as "really fucking inconvenienced" but never disabled.

Yet I wonder... with talk about giving the disabled label to obese people and those with alcohol/drug addictions, does being left-handed fit the bill after all? More so than either of those (with the exception of those obese due to medical conditions), being left-handed isn’t something a person brought on themselves, and it does cause people difficulties in day to day life…

It makes me wonder if classifying it as a disability might not be such a bad thing after all, because at the very least it might raise the average right-hand person's – particularly those in the manufacturing sector – awareness that yes, we do exist, and we’d love it if products were made that had our safety and convince in mind too. Maybe it’d get young left-handed children some help adapting too, so they suffer less needless injury and frustration growing up, much in the way people strive to help other children with learning disabilities cope and adapt as well.

So what do dopers think, is being left-handed a disability or not? If so, should accommodations be made in schools and workplaces to help lefties be safer and as productive as possible?
#2
Old 03-05-2004, 07:41 PM
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Why can't you drive a stick shift? I mean in Great Britain, cars are right hand drive and they still make cars with manual transmissions. Presumably most people are right handed there and would have to shift with their left hands.
#3
Old 03-05-2004, 07:54 PM
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Disability is a word with meaning beyond simply lack of or lessened ability. So a left handed person is not disabled any more than a clumsy person is disabled. I have driven stick shift in UK and USA and so I know there is no reason your handedness will prevent or even make more difficult the driving of a stick shift car. If your right hand is too weak to move a gear stick, then it would also probably be too weak to be the only hand on the wheel should you have to make an emergency manoover when shifting in a British car. In fact since in US you would be keeping your better hand on the wheel it could be said that all US stick shift vehicles are left handed. Of course the position of the blinkers control is more awkward for left handed people, but then again no one in US uses their blinkers anymore.
Though it is possible to feel indignant about people who are dissabled through apparently their own fault, I don't think it can be argued that left handedness is as much of a problem to someone as extreme obesity or a drug problem.
#4
Old 03-05-2004, 07:58 PM
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I didn't have the hand strength/dexterity required to get the thing in anything but first or second gear. It might have been that particular car, but I don't care enough to make another attempt at learning.; it's not like there's a shortage of automatics, and if an emergency required me to drive a standard, I guess I'd just keep the car in low gear
#5
Old 03-05-2004, 08:37 PM
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I'm a lefty and in no way do I consider it to be a disability. As for the driving example you provide - I've driven manual / stick shift vehicles all my life without problem.

The only drawback I experience is dragging my hand through text I've just written and smearing it (but even this problem has a workaround).

As for left handed products, they are available.
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#6
Old 03-05-2004, 08:38 PM
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If anything, being left-handed has forced me to learn to use both hands effectively, which is something that the average right-handed person doesn't have going for them. That's not a disability.
#7
Old 03-05-2004, 08:51 PM
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Isn't the PC term differently-abled? If so, then yes, lefty's are.
#8
Old 03-05-2004, 08:57 PM
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I'm left handed, and right footed. I golf right handed, play tennis (badly) left handed and will probably play guitar left handed.

My first driving experience was an MGB and I drove it uphill from a standing start without any previous instructions. I don't see a problem with stick shifts. Everybody has a skill they are good at from day one or suck at on day 100 (I can't draw and my father and mother were artists).

I can't see any shade of grey that would create a disability out of left-handedness.
#9
Old 03-05-2004, 09:12 PM
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While I don't consider myself disabled, I can remember a time when lefties were considered almost as such. And I'm only 43.

When I first went to school (1966) the teachers actually had determined that I had a learning disorder because I could not write very good, or cut paper.
When they called my parents in to discuss putting me in special classes, my Pop told them that the problem was that I was left handed and that's why I could cut or write with my right hand, the schools response was "yes, we're trying to cure him of that".
The fuss my old man made ended up with "left handedness" no longer being considered a handicap (at least at that school) and the following year the school was equiped with left handed scissors and such. Afterwhich, I excelled in school.

In this day of everyone being a victim of something or other, let's not give anyone any ideas!!!!

I am a south paw, and I am NOT disabled!
#10
Old 03-06-2004, 12:47 AM
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We lefties are most definitely NOT disabled.

PS I also drive a stick.
#11
Old 03-06-2004, 01:35 AM
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Left-handed = disabled?

This lefty says "Bull-SHIT" to that notion. Good grief!
#12
Old 03-06-2004, 01:49 AM
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Another total lefty reporting...

There are occasional instances of incovenience. Only occasional.

In some sports activity, like cricket batting, it's an advantage, as most bowlers are used to right-handed batsmen.
#13
Old 03-06-2004, 01:51 AM
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Being lefthanded is certainly no disadvantage in sport (except field hockey) and is a great advantage in tennis and cricket. I have also noticed that compared to people I meet in real life, far more actors seem to be left handed. Even Bart Simpson.
#14
Old 03-06-2004, 01:58 AM
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I'm a lefty who's disabled because of it. My aunt has a punch bowl with a ladle I'm completely incapable of using to fill a glass with punch because it's shaped such that using the spout on the ladle is absolutely mandatory and of course the spout is on the wrong side. If that's not disabled, I don't know what is!
#15
Old 03-06-2004, 02:21 AM
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Being left-handed isn't a disability. The reason it sometimes appears to be one is that most people are righties and as such, a greater number of hand-specific items are tailored to them. I would say this is much less of a problem than it used to be. So on behalf of the oppressors, I apologize for the inconvenience.
#16
Old 03-06-2004, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrafilter
If anything, being left-handed has forced me to learn to use both hands effectively, which is something that the average right-handed person doesn't have going for them. That's not a disability.
Yes. The main drawback for me is that I cannot draw on the computer because I use the mouse with my right hand.
#17
Old 03-06-2004, 04:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver
I'm left handed, and right footed. I golf right handed, play tennis (badly) left handed and will probably play guitar left handed.
Actually, when one plays golf "right handed", the left arm is supposedly the more important of the two. It's often referred to as a "left handed" game. And on guitar, the fingering, which requires the most manual dexterity, is done with the left hand, as with most string instruments.
#18
Old 03-06-2004, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flickster
The only drawback I experience is dragging my hand through text I've just written and smearing it (but even this problem has a workaround).
Total hijack, but an interesting anecdote - this is probably the reason the Greeks changed the direction of writing (Greek was originally written right-to-left, like Hebrew - so the righties ended up getting dirty)
[/hijack - Sorry, and carry on!]

Dani
#19
Old 03-06-2004, 10:12 AM
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Yeah. Riiiiiiiiight. Suuuuuuuuure.

My mom's a lefty. Her mom started off as a lefty but was forced to switch. While I know it can be an inconvienence sometimes, being a lefty does NOT make you disabled. Uh uh. No way.
#20
Old 03-06-2004, 02:25 PM
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Why do I get the distinct feeling that this thread is the precursor to frivolous litigation on an unthinkable scale? "Oh gosh! I am different from my co-worker/neighbor/etc. This must be someone's fault! Ka-ching!"

A subsequent prize, presumably, to be offered to first to prove beyond a doubt that blue-eyed people are disadvantaged compared to green-eyed (or vice versa, or any permutation you choose).
#21
Old 03-06-2004, 04:19 PM
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I've never thought of myself as disabled. The only problems I've ever really had were with those half-desks in school that were made with a right hand bias. Occasionally there would be one or two left handed ones in a room but the rest of the time I had to shift awkwardly. Otherwise I always got by.

Of course, I do have two pair of left handed scissors. Real ones. Not the ones that are advertised as being for "left or right handed people." Which are just righties without bias molded handles.

I've occasionally joked about lefties being subject to discrimination, but it's just a joke.




One day, though, we'll make the righties pay. Heh, heh, heh.
#22
Old 03-06-2004, 06:25 PM
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No, left handedness is not a disability. In fact, left-handedness is not even a born trait, contradictory to popular belief. Handedness is learned. The notion of brain hemisphere dominance is a pseuodoscience. My long post on this with cites was eaten by hamsters, and I don't want to do it again, but I urge you to google on the topic and see what you come up with, as well as interrogating what scientific evidence there really is for handedness or brain hemisphere dominance as an innate quality.
#23
Old 03-06-2004, 06:35 PM
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I'm a third or fourth generation leftie. Mrs. Duckster is a leftie. The cat is a leftie (as are most cats).

Seems to me the disability exists in the right-hand world. After all, they require all sorts of tools and things designed especially for them. I can use any with ease.

And yes, I drive a stick.

#24
Old 03-06-2004, 06:43 PM
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I'm a lefty, and I think schools should at least have some things to accomodate lefties:

- those desks designed for righties need to go or you need to have one or two left-handed ones.
- you should have left-handed gloves if you're going to be playing baseball in gym

Also, I wonder what percentage of lefties are lefties.
#25
Old 03-06-2004, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skutir
No, left handedness is not a disability. In fact, left-handedness is not even a born trait, contradictory to popular belief. Handedness is learned. The notion of brain hemisphere dominance is a pseuodoscience. My long post on this with cites was eaten by hamsters, and I don't want to do it again, but I urge you to google on the topic and see what you come up with, as well as interrogating what scientific evidence there really is for handedness or brain hemisphere dominance as an innate quality.
See http://duke.usask.ca/~elias/left/genetics.htm It is not as simple as you state.
#26
Old 03-06-2004, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Handedness is learned.
You are completely wrong, sorry.

I am left handed since birth. Don't start talking nonsense about something you obviously have no idea about.

I was not "influenced" or "teached" at all to give preference to my left hand, quite the contrary. I was teached to use my right hand for things like writing, eating etc.. because in our culture this is the way you do things. Yet that didn't "cure" me from being left handed bewause beuing left handed is my nature. Thus I can write, eat, do almost everything with both hands, yet still use my left hand by preference and automatically when there is no "outside pressure"' because that is my nature.

My son is left handed since birth. I saw that already when he was merely a few hours old. Nobody ever did anything to "encourage " him to give preference to the use of his left hand; he just used it (and uses it) in the way any right handed person uses his right hand.

By the way: I don't consider myself "disabled" because I am left handed. That is just ridiculous. I should say left handed people in a domintantly right handed world have lot of advantages, because we are pressed to learn how to deal with the difficulties and thus learn to use our imagination and learn how to adapt ourselves. (I would like to see a right handed person use his left hand with the same skill as we use our right hand = our both hands).

I am also severely dyslexic. In comparison with that handicap, suggesting that being left handed is a 'disability" is in my opinion a luxury joke.


Salaam. A
#27
Old 03-06-2004, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask
Being lefthanded is certainly no disadvantage in sport (except field hockey) and is a great advantage in tennis and cricket. I have also noticed that compared to people I meet in real life, far more actors seem to be left handed. Even Bart Simpson.
Really? I played field hockey for years without noticing any difficulty due to my left-handedness. (In fact, hockey influenced me so much that I play right-handed at cricket and golf.)
#28
Old 03-07-2004, 01:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch George
Why do I get the distinct feeling that this thread is the precursor to frivolous litigation on an unthinkable scale? "Oh gosh! I am different from my co-worker/neighbor/etc. This must be someone's fault! Ka-ching!"

A subsequent prize, presumably, to be offered to first to prove beyond a doubt that blue-eyed people are disadvantaged compared to green-eyed (or vice versa, or any permutation you choose).
OK, picture this scenario. Lefty starts a new job, has difficulties because his/her work station is set up for right-handed person. Lefty rearranges work station to make it easier to work at. Boss comes to cubicle, reprimands Lefty, orders him/her to put work station back the way it was. Lefty complies. Boss later reprimands Lefty for inefficiency on job, which is caused in large part by working at a station that is set up for right-handed person. Lefty begs permission to rearrange work station because this would enable him/her to perform job more efficiently. Boss says, "tough shit". Lefty is eventually fired for inefficiency.

I tend to think that a wrongful dismissal suit would be in order here, since handedness is a matter of neurological wiring, and Boss was aware of Lefty's lefthandedness and refused to allow Lefty to make accomodations for his/her, well, for lack of a better word, condition, that would enable him/her to perform the job efficiently.
#29
Old 03-07-2004, 02:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skutir
No, left handedness is not a disability. In fact, left-handedness is not even a born trait, contradictory to popular belief. Handedness is learned.
That's false.
#30
Old 03-07-2004, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agiantdwarf
Also, I wonder what percentage of lefties are lefties.
This was a classic Ask Cecil question:
Quote:
...You're right about the difficulty of establishing true left-handedness; for that matter, it's difficult to establish true right-handedness. One researcher estimates that if you considered a wide range of motor skills--writing, throwing, batting, eating, and so on--only about 7.5 percent of the population would turn out to be "pure" right-handers.

Moreover, there is some dispute about what true left-handedness means. A few years ago a couple researchers at the University of Pennsylvania claimed to be able to detect two distinct kinds of left-handed writers--those who mirror the way right-handers hold their pencils, and those who "hook" when they write, i.e., curl their hands around so the pencil points toward the bottom of the page. The latter group, which is thought to comprise about 60 percent of all left-handed writers, is considered the hard-core element, in the sense that their neurological organization (according to the theory, at least) is substantially different from that of the general run of mankind.

You undoubtedly recall that in humans you have what we call "contralateral neural control"--this scientific jive just slays me--in which the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. In addition, in most people--righties and nonhooking lefties, anyway--the writing hand is located on the opposite side of the body from the brain's language center. In hooking left-handers, though, the writing hand and the language center supposedly are both located on the left side.

This means that one side of the brain is taking care of business on both sides of the body (writing on the left, everything else on the right), which means it has to work harder than usual, which means it ends up either (a) extremely adept, or (b) extremely beat.

This may explain the statistically documented fact that lefties tend to be either geniuses or idiots. I should know, because I'm a hooking left-hander myself.

--CECIL ADAMS
Me too.
#31
Old 03-07-2004, 06:52 AM
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Another left handed doper here. I don't consider myself disabled. In fact the idea made me LOL.
#32
Old 03-07-2004, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bippy the Beardless
Disability is a word with meaning beyond simply lack of or lessened ability.

Neither is a drunk or a dope fiend.
#33
Old 03-07-2004, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skutir
No, left handedness is not a disability. In fact, left-handedness is not even a born trait, contradictory to popular belief. Handedness is learned. The notion of brain hemisphere dominance is a pseuodoscience.

It is not a pseudoscience. You are merely ignorant. I suggest that you abandon non-indexes like Google and use Medline to research the REAL scientific literature directly.
#34
Old 03-07-2004, 11:00 AM
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In a world of non-handed tools, left-handedness would pose no disability. However, left-handedness can result in a de facto disability that is more due to mindlessness and thoughtlessness on the part of the right-handed majority and any innate physical deficiency on the part of right-handers.

I adore it when some poor, fumble-fingered right-hander (and most of them are so undextrous) must work in an area that I've set up for myself. I can use their setups with very little difficulty, but those poor inferior, clumsy right-handers are helpless when faced with a left-handed setup.
#35
Old 03-07-2004, 11:17 AM
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We leftys are often more creative that those boring rightys. Is it that the 2 traits are linked, or has living in a backward world required us to become creative?
Even though I write and eat with my left hand, most other tasks I perform with my right or either hand.
I craft stained glass, and I solder with either hand.
When I was in first grade, I would print to the middle of the paper with my left hand, then switch to the right. I got yelled at. The teacher said she didn't care which I used, but I must only use one. I still don't understand why.
#36
Old 03-07-2004, 11:19 AM
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Another lefty checking in, by no means disabled or whatever the PC word is supposed to be. Sure there have been a few bothers along the lines of the school desks/work stations set up for righties. But in the end I've found we adapt well. So I turn the paper to a 'funny' angle when writing, helps avoid those ink smears! Never had a problem driving a stick, actually learned to drive in one . Only real oddity I've ever noticed is I have difficulty remembering telephone numbers or combinations for locks if dialing with my left hand. Anyone else notice if this happens to them too?
#37
Old 03-07-2004, 12:03 PM
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Another lefty here.

I find it somewhat more difficult learning from and teaching to the usual right-handers the hand skills involved in the use of various tools.

Secondly, I have this compulsive concern with hand cleanliness in case I'm called upon to shake hands.
#38
Old 03-07-2004, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flickster
As for left handed products, they are available.
I'm sure you can find at least one company selling foam hands with WWJD printed on them too. 10% of people are lefties, but if manufacturers who make just left handed products, or make right handed objects and left handed ones both, even account for 1 ten thousandth of a percent of the total manufacturers, I'd be shocked.

Not only are there pitifully few companies even making the things, you have to buy virtually all leftie products online so you pay two or three times as much as you would for a rightie product, and shipping and wait weeks to get it. I'd like a new glass 2 cup measuring cup. If I bought a right-handed one I could go to a department today and pay $5-7 for it. Or I could get a leftie one and pay $20 for it and get it next month.

I know that most people making things won't make them for us too because they're afraid of not selling them, but I bet if they made a big deal over their products being leftie-friendly people would snap them up, given the biggest reason left-handed products "don't sell" is that we don't expect there to be any. It's hard to sell something people don't know exist...

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites
While I don't consider myself disabled, I can remember a time when lefties were considered almost as such. And I'm only 43.
Perhaps that's why my coworker thinks of himself as disabled? He must be in his 50s since I know his son who is a few years older than me.
#39
Old 03-07-2004, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picunurse
We leftys are often more creative that those boring rightys.
Cite? And not a psuedo-scientific site, please, but one supported by empirical research.
#40
Old 03-07-2004, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jervoise
Really? I played field hockey for years without noticing any difficulty due to my left-handedness. (In fact, hockey influenced me so much that I play right-handed at cricket and golf.)
Well that's exactly what I mean. As far as I know field hockey is the only game you can't play lefthanded, no lefthanded hockey sticks, no free hits with your right shoulder pointed at goal. My former boss was lefthanded and like you ended up playing golf righthanded when he took it up because his years of hockey had forced him to learn to hit like that.
#41
Old 03-07-2004, 06:31 PM
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re

When I was in kindergarten, the teachers called in my mother for a special meeting. They wanted to send my the the special ed school, because I couldn't use scissors. My mom asked them if they realized I was left handed, and that they would look stupid using the wrong scissors too. I guess any moron can become a teacher.
#42
Old 03-07-2004, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skutir
Cite? And not a psuedo-scientific site, please, but one supported by empirical research.
We left handers use the right side of our brains which scientists have concluded is the creative side of the brain, as opposed to the left or analytical side. I don't know of a specific site, but when I was younger my parents got me a book called the Left Handed Book. It listed a substantial list of actors, musicians, and painters, all whom are world renowned, such as Picasso, Fred Astaire, etc.
#43
Old 03-07-2004, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsmooth
We left handers use the right side of our brains which scientists have concluded is the creative side of the brain, as opposed to the left or analytical side. I don't know of a specific site, but when I was younger my parents got me a book called the Left Handed Book. It listed a substantial list of actors, musicians, and painters, all whom are world renowned, such as Picasso, Fred Astaire, etc.
My parents had a book called "Linda Goodman's Sun Signs." None of it was true, of course. All you've done here is make the assertions about brain hemisphere dominance, and it's not scientists who make those statements, and those statements are not conclusions. The statements are made by new age spiritualists, and the statements are merely assertions that have not been validated by empirical research. People -- lefties, especially -- just enjoy the myth because it makes them "special" rather than merely different. Being able to rattle off a few people who are both left handed and creative proves only that left handed people may be creative, but so can right handed people, so... shrug. I would think that except for baseball pitching, there is not a single career that has a higher percentage of lefties than righties and indicates that they are "more" anything.
#44
Old 03-07-2004, 07:18 PM
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Another lefty checking in.

My sports were tennis (college), boxing (Golden Gloves) and basketball (HS) and I can absolutely tell you that being left handed was a HUGE advantage in all 3, not a disadvantage.

People are so used to playing/sparing/defending righties, that when they go up against a lefty...you can see the deer in the headlights split-second when they can't understand what the hell they are seeing (I can also attest to this...a lefty from Colorado hit me so hard in GG Nationals one year...I kept trying to answer the ringing phone in my head for 3 rounds).
#45
Old 03-07-2004, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask
Well that's exactly what I mean. As far as I know field hockey is the only game you can't play lefthanded, no lefthanded hockey sticks, no free hits with your right shoulder pointed at goal.
Polo is another one. Point taken though.
#46
Old 03-07-2004, 09:09 PM
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Another lefty checking in. Handicapped? No way. Hell, the biggest inconvenience of being a lefty, AFAIAC, is that occasionally on a computer keyboard, the 'dumb' right hand will overshoot the backspace key and hit the 'insert' button instead, sending me into overwrite mode. And that's pretty trivial.

Quite honestly, using my middle name in a first name - middle initial world is a much bigger nuisance than being a lefty in a right-hand world.
#47
Old 03-07-2004, 09:29 PM
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It's actually more complicated than that. For one thing, it depends on the kind of music you want to play.

Also, there are basically three ways to 'play left-handed': one way is to simply flip a right-handed guitar upside-down. Another is to reverse the strings on a right-handed guitar. Lastly, you can play an actual left-handed guitar. As we discussed in this thread, there are pros and cons to each way. Guitar playing is not done completely with one hand (like throwing), but uses both hands for different functions (like batting), so it's difficult to say whether playing lefty helps or hurts.

Since most of the hindrances become less important the longer and more seriously you play, casual lefties may be more inclined to get frustrated and quit (and FWIW, most lefties I've heard are better than average, but that may be prejudice, since I am one).

To the OP -- I definitely do not consider left-handedness to be considered a disability. It helped me as a guitar teacher (it's like looking in a mirror for a right-handed student), and I can amicably refuse access to my instruments to drunken pickers in bars "Sure you can play it, pal -- uh, it's left-handed, that won't be a problem, will it?")

Quote:
Originally Posted by blowero

(snip)

And on guitar, the fingering, which requires the most manual dexterity, is done with the left hand, as with most string instruments.
#48
Old 03-08-2004, 12:28 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: N CA
Posts: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by skutir
No, left handedness is not a disability. In fact, left-handedness is not even a born trait, contradictory to popular belief. Handedness is learned. The notion of brain hemisphere dominance is a pseuodoscience. My long post on this with cites was eaten by hamsters, and I don't want to do it again, but I urge you to google on the topic and see what you come up with, as well as interrogating what scientific evidence there really is for handedness or brain hemisphere dominance as an innate quality.
Too bad all your empirical data is missing, so you can't prove your point. I am the only lefty in my immediate family. I had one grandparent who was left handed, and I didn't see them much as a child due to the distance, so how the hell did I "LEARN" to be left handed. I have tried many times even as a child to write with my right hand, but it wasn't natural, and was hard. If I didn't have some innate tendency to se that hand, why was it so much easier. As to the whole feeling special thing, I didn't feel that way, I did however feel very different.
#49
Old 03-08-2004, 12:33 AM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 40,361
Are left-handed people disabled?

Nope. Just sinister.
#50
Old 03-08-2004, 03:29 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,975
Quote:
Originally Posted by F. U. Shakespeare
It's actually more complicated than that. For one thing, it depends on the kind of music you want to play.
But it's not necessarily a slam-dunk that guitar is going to be easier for a right-handed person to play, correct?
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