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Heritability of Handedness May be in Decline
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From Nature, and interesting but puzzling abstract:

Published: 10 October 2019
Handedness heritability in industrialized and nonindustrialized societies
Winati Nurhayu, Sarah Nila, Kanthi Arum Widayati, Puji Rianti, Bambang Suryobroto & Michel Raymond

In modern societies, there is a decreased usage of traditional weapons to settle interpersonal or inter-group disputes compared to usage in traditional societies, possibly affecting the frequency-dependent selection on the handedness polymorphism.

If your culture does a lot of fighting with swords or spears, is it better to be right-handed or left-handed? As Rocky points out, lefthanders are widely assumed to have an unfair advantage in boxing, but I don’t know about about edged weapons.

Another societal difference is the extensive automation of hard manual labour (including agriculture) in industrialized societies, relaxing the selection for hand specialization.

Thus, selection of handedness is likely to differ between traditional and modern societies. As heritability determines the relative speed of evolutionary dynamics, handedness heritability was compared between industrialized and non-industrialized societies.

First, individuals were sampled from a non-industrialized area in Indonesia, where violent conflicts are relatively frequent and tribal wars have been prevalent recently. Handedness was recorded directly or indirectly for 11,490 individuals belonging to 650 independent pedigrees, and handedness heritability was estimated using a pedigree-based animal model.

Second, estimates of handedness heritability derived from published sources were collected to compare heritability estimates, accounting for various confounding variables. Non-industrialized countries displayed a significantly higher heritability value (h2 = 0.56) than that of industrialized countries (h2 = 0.20).

Heritability decreased with time along the twentieth century in industrialized countries, independently of the frequency of left-handedness, and independently of the method used to measure handedness. In conclusion, the data are consistent with a decrease in handedness heritability following the industrialization process and/or the associated decrease in violence using traditional weapons. The difference in heritability between industrialized and non-industrialized countries suggests that selection of handedness is thus likely to differ between traditional and modern societies.

Are there cultures that still try to change lefthanders into righthanders, like happened to Ronald Reagan? I have this theory that the popularity of famous baseball lefthanders like Babe Ruth finally ended prejudice against the lefthanded in the U.S. But the history of Lefty Liberation is weirdly uncelebrated.

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  1. Anonymous[751] • Disclaimer says:

    Being left handed is massive in fencing

  2. Anonymous[751] • Disclaimer says:

    Being left-handed is a huge deal in fencing

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  3. In MMA Conor Mcgregor was able to get to the top by having a magical left hand. It was that simple.

    He lacked a wrestling base (a huge deal in MMA that non-American English-speaking countries have no culture for), he trained jiu-jitsu as an professional but he’s nothing special in that area, and his coaches/gym were complete amateurs in a country with no MMA credentials.

    But as his coach said, Conor walked in on day one with power in his left hand. He said he didn’t really train Conor’s style at all, he just let him do what he wanted because it worked.

    “Nobody can take that left hand shot. He’s powerful and he’s fast but precision beats power and timing beats speed,” he said.

    “I feel for Jose, he’s a phenomenal champion. We deserved to go a little bit longer but I still feel at the end of the day that precision beats power and timing beats speed… it would have happened sooner or later.

    “These are four inch gloves, that’s all it takes and especially when you add my left hand. No one can take my left hand shot.”

    In boxing people can of course train for southpaws so it doesn’t seem like a huge advantage because boxers are very technical and they will train for 3 months knowing they’re fighting a southpaw. But in a street fight or battle it could be everything because you will automatically defend the left of your face with your left hand and plan to hit with your right hand. That instantaneous instinct will cost you when a guy is throwing from his left to your right.

  4. anonymous[751] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Good, of course. Like batting in baseball.

  5. anon[264] • Disclaimer says:

    Left handed swordsmen have an advantage. Legend has it one Scot clan built a left-handed spiral staircase in a castle specifically to disadvantage right handed swordsmen.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  6. Bambang Suryobroto

    • Replies: @Svevlad
  7. Another thing is that lefties tend to be more ambidextrous.

    I have no idea how that specifically translates to fitness but it’s worth thinking about.

    I’ve known leftie guys who threw left and batted right.

    I had a leftie friend who almost got us into a bar fight because he was playing pool with his right hand and then bet these guys we’d play them with him playing with his left. He was not an elite pool player or anything, he was just pretty ambivalent about how he played pool or bowled. You’d never hear that from a rightie.

  8. @Anonymous

    And being named “Lefty” is a huge advantage when fencing stolen goods.

    • LOL: unit472
  9. The legends about Billy the Kid were that he was left-handed, and so had an advantage in a gunfight, beyond being a quick draw. But it turns out that he probably was not—the standard images of Billy the Kid were printed mirror-reversed from the original daguerrotype. I’m not sure why being left-handed would have been an advantage, though.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  10. In baseball it is advantageous to be left-handed, but that’s because the game isn’t symmetrical, not because of being lefty per se.

    • Replies: @Rainier Wolfcastle
  11. @ScarletNumber

    More like the game is close to symmetrical, but the population frequencies are not. Apart from minor asymmetries in some positions (e.g., most first basemen are left-handed), the dominant effect of handedness in baseball is the advantage that left-handed pitchers have against left-handed hitters, and likewise for righties. The equilibrium is equal numbers of each, but since lefties are around nine times rarer than righties this creates disproportionate demand for southpaws.

  12. @Rainier Wolfcastle

    Why are there so many lefthanded starting pitchers? Don’t righthanded have an advantage over righthanded batters, of which there are more?

  13. @anonymous2space

    Ozzie Smith, probably the greatest defensive shortstop ever, was pretty much ambidextrous.

    • Replies: @BenKenobi
    , @Anonymous
  14. Anon[251] • Disclaimer says:

    Remember, heritability is just a statistical number, representing the variance of a trait prediction based on the two biological parents, in a particular time and place. It says nothing about the relative contribution of genetics vs. environment, nor of randomness nor the “nature of nurture.”

    The heritability of sinistrality is weirdly low. Almost all traits are in the moderately heritable range, 40 to 60 percent including IQ and big personality traits. Only a very few are highly heritable, including height and body weight. To my knowledge, only homosexuality has a weak heritability like sinstrality. So it kind of suggests that one isn’t completely “born like that” for these two. Witness the recent panickly, over-explained homosexual GWAS research that came out a couple of months ago.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  15. AnonAnon says:

    Another thing is that lefties tend to be more ambidextrous.

    My husband writes, uses a mouse, and eats left-handed but plays golf and softball right handed. My dad was more of a pure lefty who also played golf left-handed. With a leftie dad and maternal grandad we thought one of our sons would turn out lefty but the closest we got was a son that had opposing hair whorls, didn’t obviously favor one hand for a long while but turned out righty, and played soccer left-footed (an advantage). However, he was done with soccer after one season, much to my husband’s disappointment.

  16. agro19 says:

    If you were an ancient native Indian, left handed would be bad for you. Those right handed would circle the wagons anti-clockwise and you would be circling clockwise either in the inner ring and become a porcupine or you would be on the outer ring shooting at your comrades. On the odd chance that if you were very smart, you could be the Chief, “Chief Niwot or Left Hand(-ed) (c. 1825–1864) was a tribal leader of the Southern Arapaho people. The census-designated place of Niwot, Colorado, Left Hand Creek, Left Hand Canyon, Niwot Mountain, Niwot High School, Niwot Elementary, Niwot Ridge and the Left Hand Brewing Company are all named for him.”

  17. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Rainier Wolfcastle

    What if they changed the rules to make it more symmetrical? E.g. for left-handed hitters, they have to run the bases clockwise and 3rd base becomes their 1st base. Or for all hitters, if you hit it to the left side (looking towards the field from home) of 2nd base, you run the bases counter-clockwise like you normally do in baseball, and if you hit it to the right side of 2nd base, you have to run clockwise.

    Of course, this would complicate the game when there are men on base and multiple base runners, and you’d need additional rules to deal with that, but it might be interesting.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  18. @anon

    Castle stairways are nearly all clockwise (as you go up), in order to hamper right handed swordsmen (the majority).

    Building anticlockwise, as the left-handed Clan Kerr did, would make it even between left-handed defenders and right-handed attackers, but the left-handers were better swordsmen.

    But the Kerrs were aye the deadliest foes

    That e’er to Englishmen were known

    For they were all bred left handed men

    And fence against them there was none

    Were the castle taken by enemies, left-handers fighting their way back in would have the advantage over right-handed defenders.

    • Agree: Cortes
  19. swamped says:

    “If your culture does a lot of fighting with swords or spears, is it better to be right-handed or left-handed?”… simply amazing what academics get paid to study these days. But what about the more important question – if your culture does a lot of football (aka ‘soccer’) is it better to be right-footed or left-footed? The vast majority of European pro’s are right-footed but many all-time greats have been left-footed, including Lionel Messi, 2019 FIFA World Player of the Year, for the sixth time in his storied career. His Argentine compatriot, Diego Maradona from the 80’s-90’s, considered by many to be the best ever (on the pitch anyway) was left-footed. Johan Cruyff, the legendary Dutch forward in the 70’s & probably the best European player ever, was left-footed. As was Italian great, Paulo Maldini whose pro career spanned an incredible 25(!) seasons. All-time greats & Real Madrid teammates in the 50’s, Alfredo DiStefano of Argentina/Spain & Ferenc Puskas of Hungary were both left-footed. But Messi, like most of the others is RIGHT handed. Which is really of no importance in’soccer’ of course, although there have been some great left-handed goalkeepers too, e.g. Peter Cech & Iker Casillas. So put down your swords & spears, the future belongs to the left-footed.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
    , @Polynikes
  20. swamped says:
    @Rainier Wolfcastle

    Left-handed hitters are also a stride closer to first base, so they have a better chance of beating out an infield hit or bunt than a right-handed hitter of comparable speed.

    • Replies: @Faraday's Bobcat
  21. BenKenobi says:

    I’m quite an odd case — I write left-handed but do everything else (sports, shoot, throw) right-handed.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
    , @Flip
  22. BenKenobi says:
    @Steve Sailer

    It’s a shame he disappeared from the face of the Earth back in 1992.

  23. jb says:

    I’m dubious. Selection on handedness can’t be very strong, especially in industrial societies where it doesn’t matter much. If the genetics of handedness could change significantly over just a few hundred years then what would that say about the stability of more important traits? (In particular, traits like intelligence).

    • Agree: BB753
  24. Polymath says:

    The genetics of handedness is very interesting. There is a very widespread gene for having handedness, and a special gene for being right handed. Those without the special gene have random handedness. So the expressed trait of left-handedness doesn’t breed true, two lefthanders like my parents will have kids with random outcomes (both their kids were righties). This is why lefties aren’t as strongly lefty as many righties are strongly righty. (I’m slightly ambidextrous and do a few things naturally lefthandedly.)

    • Replies: @res
    , @Romanian
  25. In cricket, especially Australia, selection policy favours right-left combinations in the top order of batting.

    Of late Oz has also liked to have at least one left hander bowling (maybe because we have a few good ones).

    The laws of LBW and the fact that most bowlers are right handed affect the selection of left handed batsmen.

  26. @Anon

    Are there cultures that still try to change lefthanders into righthanders, like happened to Ronald Reagan?

  27. @Steve Sailer

    Yes, to a degree they all do. I was left handed by nature but was strongly encouraged to learn to be right handed. I can write equally mediocrely with either hand.

    Real penmanship and its training is the life’s work of Master Penman Mike Sull, whose work has to be seen to be believed. I wish I had been able to have him tutor my kids. Many Christian (and other) homeschoolers use his methods and books which are much to be commended.

    I do not encourage parents to de-lefthand their kids in most activities but I do recommend that lefties learn to play guitar right handed, because a lefty playing right has many long term advantages, although starting out that way is awkward. I don’t encourage it as strongly that lefties play bowed strings righthanded because the bow hand really needs the added dexterity, but it does make ensemble playing easier, because you’re bowing the wrong way lefty and hitting other players if not careful and spaced out a little.

  28. A bullshit study.

    Left-handedness is actually two very different and unrelated conditions:

    – A true right-brain lateralization condition, which is heritable and a healthy variant of human physiology. (And IMO it’s not so much about which hand you use as it is about how you relate to time and pattern recognition.)

    – Various brain damage scenarios where a right-handed person’s left hemisphere is damaged, forcing him/her to use the left hand. (Without brain damage they’d be normal right-handed people.)

    A study that doesn’t disentangle to two is close to worthless.

    (I’m guessing non-industrialized countries have less incidence of brain damage? Probably due to better medical care.)

    • Replies: @Autochthon
  29. @PiltdownMan

    People watch the right hand to see if it’s going for a weapon. That’s how we get the drop on them.

  30. @BenKenobi

    You’re probably right eye dominant.

  31. @Steve Sailer

    When I was a kid, ’81 or ’82, the Gideons stopped by our elementary school to give kids Bibles. The old boy dropping them off in my class stood beside me a little bit.
    “You’re writing with your left hand.”
    “Oh, when I was about your age, the teacher saw me writing with my left hand. She took a ruler, cracked me across the knuckles like this, (he picked up a ruler and did it to me) and said, ‘We write with our right hands’. This way is probably better, my handwriting is terrible!”

  32. Hruodland says:
    @Steve Sailer

    People get trained out out of it in Muslim societies where people eat with their right hand out of a common dish and use their left hand (and water) for sanitary purposes after relieving themselves.

    • Replies: @BB753
    , @YetAnotherAnon
  33. Hodag says:

    Stacey King was a very mediocre basketball center for the NBA. He always had a gut and could hardly palm a basketball due to tiny hands – two handed rebounding as a NBA center is no good. Career back-up.

    But he had like five monster games a year with 25 points plus. It was usually against a rookie because he had a full set of left handed moves. Being seven foot tall is rare, left handed and seven even rarer.

    Marvelous Marvin Hagler had to wait years for a title shot because he was good and a lefty. Pain in the arse to fight a lefty, even if you win the fight will look ugly. It comes down to a Battle of the front foot, and stepping on each other’s feet.

  34. unit472 says:

    Baseball obviously favored left handed batters as they were closer to first base and turned in that direction after swinging the bat. Then there was stadium layout, especially in the old ball parks. The old Yankee stadium had a right field corner fence only 296 feet from home, Fenway had a towering wall in left field but not in right. Then the slickest infielders were at 3rd base and shortstop and 1st basemen had to stand at the bag to keep a base runner close. Rightfielders were also put in that position ( before the DH) because they were good hitters but no so good outfielders.

    As for heritability. Automatic weapons eject spent cartridges out the right side of the weapon. This makes it hard for lefthanders to sight down the barrel of an automatic weapon as his cheek will be nestled against the right side of the stock and hot brass flying out onto his right arm. Enemy forces devote much firepower taking out machineguns.

  35. I wonder how different the world looks to lefties, and whether there is any impact on the viewpoint of the forcibly converted. I have one lefty son. When I taught him to shoot he watched me and then picked up the gun and held it correctly, mirroring me without any thought. Punching, jumping, wrestling stance, using tools, etc., are all mirrored without thought. Would a righty do that if taught by a lefty? How would a convert hold a rifle? Teaching baseball fielding footwork was a challenge for me, but thankfully he figured it all out despite my clumsy instructions.

    Eye dominance complicates this too. If you are cross eye dominant, it impacts your shooting, punching, hitting, pool shooting, etc. Just about everything that requires you to stand sideways. It seems it would be much easier to convert a lefty who is right eye dominant. A shooting instructor told my righty, left eye dominant brother it would take about 2 dozen shots to convert him to a lefty shooter, and it only took about a dozen.

  36. Anonymous[202] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Genuine ambidexterity isn’t a good thing. It is linked with reading difficulties, lower intelligence, and a much greater likelihood of psychosis (about 10x greater, iirc). The brain performs much more efficiently when its specialized functions reside in one hemisphere or the other rather than straddling both hemispheres.

  37. Woodsie says:

    The world is dangerous to left-handers, who are “accident prone” because of right-hand bias in machinery, tools, even doorways. Scissors, in particular, are torture devices for lefties because the loops are grooved for a right-hand grip. My buddy grew up as a star in little league because he could hit the ball a ton; he had great eyes (see the ball, hit the ball) and was lefty, giving him a better look at the pitcher’s right arm. His old man taught him to switch hit, saying, “one of these days you’re going to have to face a left-handed pitcher, and you’ll want to turn around.”

    • Replies: @Woodsie
  38. @Anonymous

    I agree. I fenced left handed in college. The coach said I’d be at a disadvantage because I had areas open to attack not presented by a right handed fencer. I knew she was crazy. When I fenced a right handed opponent all their same areas were presented to me. With the advantage that I went against theirs 90% of the time while they went against mine 10% of the time. My most difficult opponents were other left handed fencers.

  39. Woodsie says:

    That’s an old hustler’s trick, so if you were playing for money, you were bound to get in a fight about it. Play a few games using your ‘wrong’ hand, losing just enough to give the other guy confidence, and then raise the stakes, turn around, and run the table.

  40. Woodsie says:

    I mis-spoke, it’s not a “better look” at the pitcher’s arm, but a better look at the ball itself, further away at release.

  41. RobUK says:

    If your culture does a lot of fighting with swords or spears, is it better to be right-handed or left-handed?

    If you are fighting in close order, e.g. with a shield and sword/spear, you all need to use the same hand. The shield of a Roman legionary or a Greek hoplite would partially cover the man to his left as well as himself (which made the extreme right of the line the most vulnerable spot).

    Greek phalanxes used to drift rightwards as each man instinctively tried to gain more protection from the shield to his right.

  42. RobUK says:

    Of late Oz has also liked to have at least one left hander bowling (maybe because we have a few good ones).

    One of the reasons is that as he follows through his boots and spikes create rough patches on the pitch that spinners can exploit later. If you have right and left handed quick bowlers you therefore create rough on both sides.

    This helps the opposition too, of course – they use the same pitch.

  43. @anonymous2space

    “I’ve known leftie guys who threw left and batted right.”

    This is how a play. I do everything left handed except swing a stick. your comment is accurate about lefty’s being more ambidextrous. We have to operate in a right handed world. Lots a things are set up for right handed people that we just have to adapt to. So in a way, that discrimination* has made lefties more versatile.

    *Designing anything to meet the needs of the majority is the appropriate and practical thing to do. The minority must adapt. I do appreciate that Winchester offered a Model 70 with a left handed bolt action, however. It’s a good piece.

    • Replies: @bruce county
  44. Dan Smith says:

    My stepson is right-handed but bats and plays golf left-handed. Major pain trying to find a golf glove! Lefty hitters are a step closer to first, a theoretical advantage, as well as being better against right-naded pitching.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  45. Anonymous[409] • Disclaimer says:

    They make mirror image versions of several rifles and handguns but machine guns not so much.

  46. … I don’t know about about edged weapons.

    There’s a reason why sinister, which derives from the Latin for left-handed, is synonymous with evil. You could shake hands and stab at the same time.

    Are there cultures that still try to change lefthanders into righthanders …?

    Good question: All I can say is that the nuns beat it out of me in the good old USA in the ’60s.

  47. @unit472

    Write, throw, mouse, shoot pistol right; bat, play pool switch, kick and shoot long guns left. That last one is irritating with the hot brass on my arm. I’ve thought about a lefty AR but doesn’t seem worth the dough and the selection is poor.

  48. Anonymous[243] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I think with Baseball multiple pressures exist to have naturally right-handed people bat left-handed. A lot of this may have to do with eye dominance. A right-eye dominant hitter batting left-handed against the more common right-handed pitcher makes this a desired situation. I’d assume most right-handed people are right eye dominant and batting lefty is smart to see the ball. I’m sure there are studies done of batting titles won by natural righties batting left-handed like Ted Williams and George Brett. (Steve should study eye dominance next).

    The stranger situation is natural lefty players batting righty only. Ricky Henderson or Cleon Jones being the rare successes at this. Limited position playing at outfield and First Base, somewhat disadvantaged at the plate facing many more righties. Ricky was so fast, it didn’t hurt him running to first with an extra 3 feet of distance from the right side.

    Another interesting thing is how Canadian vs American Hockey players shoot “right-handed” vs “left-handed.” It has little to do with handedness apparently. This may be cultural:

  49. As a kid in Liverpool in the late 50’s I was forced to write with my right rather than my natural left hand.
    This was government not parochial.

    As a result I’m basically illiterate with both hands.

    I still lean toward the sinister.

  50. BB753 says:

    You’d think scripts written from left to right like Arabic would be better suited for lefties.

    • Replies: @MBlanc46
  51. Marko says:
    @Steve Sailer

    The Chinese, at least when I lived there 15 years ago, still strongly encouraged right-handedness. I remember left-handed English teachers would amaze their students, who had never seen a left-handed person write on the board.

    Right-handedness had a practical implication: all those students eating their lunch in a row. If one were left-handed, they would bump elbows.

  52. Cleanthes says:

    @anonymous coward wrote:
    “(I’m guessing non-industrialized countries have less incidence of brain damage? Probably due to better medical care.)”

    I would guess exactly the opposite. Better medical care means more infants and children surviving brain problems that previously would have been fatal. May partly account for increase in autism, gender dysphoria, and other conditions outside previous norms.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  53. CPK says:

    While I write with the left hand, and do other things with the right, I’m mostly ambisinistrous — I do things equally badly with either hand.

  54. Pericles says:

    I’ve known leftie guys who threw left and batted right.

    Pat Venditte is a switch pitcher currently with the Giants (apparently by training rather than raw talent). Next, I’d like to see a switch pitcher / switch hitter.

  55. FPD72 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Left handed pitchers seem to have more advantage over left handed batters than right handed pitchers have over right handed batters. I think there are two reasons:

    First, batters are more used to facing right handed pitchers, so lefties benefit from a comparatively lower rate of exposure.

    Secondly, it is well documented that umpires extend the outside strike zone up to a couple of inches for left handed batters. Since left handed breaking pitches break to the outside much more often, lefties benefit from those two inches more than right handed pitchers, who hit those two inches only with backdoor curves or cut fastballs.

  56. @Hruodland

    Touching any food with your left hand in Muslim societies like Afghanistan is a major faux-pas. A friend was passing round chappatis without thinking until he realised they were piling up uneaten to his left.

    He looked at his host in horrified realisation, his host frowned then burst out laughing (at which everyone else laughed) and ordered more chappatis to be brought in.

    • Replies: @Brás Cubas
  57. @anonymous2space

    I am right handed, but I am close enough to being ambidextrous that some have mistaken me for being a lefty.

  58. @unit472

    The advantage is much greater in softball. First base is only 60’ away.

    In fact, there is a category of batter in softball called the Slapper. The Slap is sort of a cross between a bunt and a real hit. The slapper actually takes a step or two in the batters box to hit the ball, and when the ball is hit the slapper is already making the first steps towards first base.

    Left handed slappers have such a huge advantage that many talented and speedy right handed softball players will learn to hit as a lefty slapper. I once watched a D I college game where most of the players on both teams hit left (slap) and threw right.

  59. @swamped

    How come an enquiry with ramifications for millennia of military history elicits amazement at its being studied, followed by a paragraph about sportsball trivia no one will possible care about, if he even remembers it, in a hundred years (perhaps in only twenty)?

    You embody why the West has been defeated.

  60. @Steve Sailer

    Sir Richard Starkey says he is a natural lefty who was trained to write right handed. He got a right-handed drum set as an adolescent. He says his unique drumming style is due to drumming on a right-handed drum set as a natural lefty.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
  61. @anonymous coward

    (I’m guessing non-industrialized countries have less incidence of brain damage? Probably due to better medical care.)

    Surely you meant to type the opposite of that statement….

  62. @Paleo Liberal

    What’s remarkably unique about it? He’s got to be the most famous, mediocre drummer who ever lived. Sure, catsup in ice cream can make for a unique dessert, but it’s nothing remarkable…at least not in any positive way….

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  63. @Steve Sailer

    Lefties have an advantage in fencing because of their rarity. Lefties fence righties all the time, so they’re used to it. Righties, however, get disoriented. The one lefty on my college fencing team was in great demand as a practice partner, especially if we knew the opposing team was going to have a lefty.

  64. rienzi says:

    As a southpaw, I am here to tell you that we have be great at adapting for pretty much everything. Scissors don’t work properly. The serations on a table knife are on the wrong side. Screws turn the wrong way, and other everyday things too numerous to list. Using a power saw is always an adventure.
    For me the worst was in college, having to churn out paragraph after paragraph on essay tests with no left-handed desk in the classroom. Arm up in the air, hand cranked around to get at the line, having to push the pen instead of pull it. Harrison Bergeron stuff. I always complained bitterly to the professors, but received massive indifference from them all.

  65. theMann says:

    Fighting and sports both, left- handeded is plain advantageous, if for no other reason that righties are simply uncomfortable facing lefties.

    Not sure if I can mention this on the forum, but there are other reasons it is cool to be a lefty. For instance, being counter- rotational dialing up a g-spot seems to really flip some chicks. And there is the fun and hilarity that ensues in formal dining where you can’t have a right sitting to your left. Or at least shouldn’t. And bowling on the less worn side of the lane is nice, even though you simply must have a ball made for you.

    Fundamentally, right-handed people are just plain scared of Lefties. It results in persecution at times, but some level of dominance for lefties at others.

    • Replies: @Paul Mendez
    , @Anon
  66. @swamped

    I was about to post the same thing, but checked to make sure. It turns out that the lefty advantage of starting closer to first is more than offset by the righty’s better ability to ground to the 3B side, requiring longer throws. So at least on the issue of beating out infield grounders, the leftys don’t have a clear advantage.

  67. My father was left-handed, very left-handed, he wrote left handed and played tennis left-handed, threw a cricket ball left-handed. No one else in the family inherited this trait.

    The biggest disadvantage of being left-handed, which is probably why it used to be frowned on, is that it is difficult to write left to write across the page if you write left handed, since your hand will tend to block the view of the letters, and the trailing hand may smudge the ink. Some left handed writers turn their wrist and page right around to make it easier, but this looks very awkward.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
  68. @Anonymous

    What if they changed the rules to make it more symmetrical? E.g. for left-handed hitters, they have to run the bases clockwise and 3rd base becomes their 1st base.

    When the issue of on which side to drive came up in Ireland, some wag suggested a compromise: buses and lorries would drive on the right, everyone else on the left. That’s what your proposal sounds like.

    The Finns “rationalized” baseball when developing their pesäpallo. Baserunning direction changes, and the distances increase, making third-to-home the hardest, rather than the easiest.

    The Finnish version of the “American pastime”

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  69. @Steve Sailer

    Why are there so many lefthanded starting pitchers? Don’t righthanded have an advantage over righthanded batters, of which there are more?

    Because once the other side loads up with lefty batters, you now have the incentive to hire some lefty pitchers. By the major league level, you’ve reached some equilibrium.

    My question, which I’ve posed here before, is, did batting left-handed give John Elway an advantage over the other right-handed quarterbacks? After all, he’d be used to looking over the other shoulder.

  70. Flip says:

    I’m quite an odd case — I write left-handed but do everything else (sports, shoot, throw) right-handed.

    That’s pretty common. It is generally called right/non-right handedness since many lefthanders are not pure lefthanded.

    I write, shave, and kick lefthanded and do everything else righthanded and have a dominant right eye.

  71. Dtbb says:

    Nadal is a natural righty. He made himself into a lefty.

  72. @Steve Sailer

    I pitched right handed, but could bat from both sides. I was not as powerful hitting from the left, but I tended to get better balls to hit. I suspect the issue is lefty pitchers are better working inside against right handed batters. As a result, when you hit from the left, you tend to see the lefty’s best stuff over the plate, rather than inside.

    There’s also the dominant eye factor. I always felt I could see the ball better from the left side, as I am right eye dominant. Maybe left handed pitchers are right eye dominant, thus giving them a better look at the plate as they go into their motion. They can hold the location through the delivery.

  73. BB753 says:

    Tennis great John McEnroe openly admitted that being left-handed was an advantage for tennis players. While serving on the deuce court (i. e., when the score is usually 30-15) they get to use the most natural technique (left arm aiming at the left court, with court wide open, while righties have to aim left using their right arm). There’s also an advantage in returning the services, for very much the same reason.

  74. @Jonathan Mason

    My left-handed wife does this: she is quite literally writing top to bottom, with whatever document she is writing upon rotated as needed. To look upon it, it seems a bizarre, perhaps even painful or confusing, contortion. She just laughs or shrugs. Myself, I don’t write “properly.” Though right-handed, I hold pens and pencils jn a way differently than anyone else I have ever known. As a child I was always asked “How do you write like that?!” and a few early teachers tried to teach me the “proper” way, though out of concern for me, not tyranny. Each soon realised my writing was fine and I wasn’t bothered, so neither were they any more. Similarly, when I learned to shoot a bow, once, as an experiment, I used two fingers instead of three, and I shot markedly better. It turned out not to be a fluke, either, and my instructor, astounded by the improvement, encouraged me to continue using the rarer (and not generally recommended for beginners) two-fingered release. Rick Wakeman’s form as a pianist is “terrible,” Phil Collins never sat properly at his drums (the latter leading to eventual injuries…), and so on….

    This stuff can be very idiosyncratic: practicalities as in writing (which would not affect or would be reversed for one writing in vertical, Oriental scripts or Hebrew) and a kid having access to only to an instrument for the “wrong” orientation for him; or odd combinations of hand and eye dominance and pecadillos of physiology which affect comfort can be as important as genetics.

  75. DavidF says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I’ve used slow-drying India ink and dip pens for drafting and calligraphy, and if I did that work regularly I think I would have forced myself to learn to write with my right hand if I didn’t already. It was just too easy to smear the ink and ruin hours of work if one didn’t take special precautions never to let one’s hand rest on previously inked areas.

    I think fast-drying inks and the reduced importance of handwritten documents is why forcing kids to write right-handed seems so anachronistic today.

  76. Dtbb says:

    The big question is; is it possible to switch hands and gain a stroke?

  77. Paleoconn says:

    It was once thought that the life expectancy of lefties is less than that of righties. In reality, people named Lefty have a lower life expectancy.

  78. J1234 says:

    I was in a music related business for many years, but was never able to figure out why there are a fair number of left handed guitars, but very few handed fiddles or cellos. I suspect it may be because so many guitarists are either self or informally taught, while bowed players tend to be more formally trained, but I don’t really know (I’m right handed.) Most country fiddlers play conventionally strung instruments, though, and they may not have formal training. There are some bowed instruments out there that are strung left handed, but they’re generally a pretty recent thing.

    If you play any kind of of stringed instrument, and try to think analytically about it, it’s hard to argue that the non-dominant hand gets the easy stuff. I guess the dominant hand tends the be the sound-generating hand, while the non-dominant hand varies the pitch of of that sound, so it could be viewed (in a way) that the non-dominant is following the lead of the dominant.

    Left handed pianos are even rarer, but I can see that, as both hands are performing pretty much similar functions. (Why the treble on the left side, though?)

    I don’t play piano or bowed instruments, but I used to play guitar. When I was buying vintage guitars (which I would define as 1960’s and earlier) I rarely saw old left handed guitars, either in person or online. I guess Hendrix turning his guitar upside down created a greater market. It would be interesting to know how many left handed guitars Martin made back in the 1940’s and 50’s.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Jack D
  79. @Cleanthes

    You’re exactly right, of course. I meant “due to better medical care in industrialized countries”.

  80. Don’t lefties have higher mutational load? This could be caused by less selection pressure in modern societies.

  81. @Autochthon

    I am not nor have I ever been a drummer.

    Supposedly real drummers can distinguish a “Ringo style “. Supposedly his wrong handed ness on the drums was responsible for the style.

    Ringo had several attributes that made him successful.

    1. He was adequate. Other Beatles claim that Pete Best was not adequate. Ringo was barely adequate at worst.

    2. He was a human metronome. They could do 53 takes and have the tempo exactly the same all 53 times. That made it easier for George Martin to splice parts of different takes together to get the best final product.

    3. He got along well with the other Beatles. The band chemistry was supposedly much better with Ringo in the group. The other members of the band hadn’t really liked to hang out with Pete Best. They all enjoyed the company of Ringo.

    4. He kept his ego in check. He sang an occasional song to keep the Ringo fans happy, but he was content to be the fourth most popular Beatle. Whereas Best had drum solos all the time, Ringo almost never had a drum solo. Supposedly Paul and George Martin has to convince Ringo to do a drum solo on “The End”.

    5. Professional drummers say Ringo was very musically inclined. He would hear a song and instantly know the best way to drum on the song. George Harrison said that when Ringo drummed for one of George’s songs, either Beatles or post-Beatles, Ringo would just sit down and drum exactly the right way.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  82. Clyde says:

    I am right handed, batted so in Little League etc .but use my computer mouse lefty as much as possible, at least 70% of the time, just to train it so.

  83. @Dan Smith

    My stepson is right-handed but bats and plays golf left-handed.

    But if you translate this into tennis terms, it just means he is hitting the ball on the backhand rather than on the forehand, so may not actually be left handed.

    Many right handed tennis players use the two handed backhand, which is the same stroke as playing golf (or baseball or cricket) left handed.

  84. @Steve Sailer

    I think the best left handed pitcher of all time was Lefty.

    Now cue up the Grove vs Carlton fans.

    • Replies: @Brutusale
    , @kaganovitch
  85. @theMann

    I had a left-handed girlfriend for a while. Whether it was certain sex positions or just sitting on the couch watching a movie, it was a big plus that both of us could hold on with the weak hand while having our dominant hand free to grab a handful of popcorn, or something.

  86. Anonymous[129] • Disclaimer says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    The Beatles got rid of Pete Best because he was the pretty boy who got all the female attention. They didn’t have that problem with Ringo.

  87. NC says:

    I did fencing and boxing in high school, and lefties have an advantage. Facing a left hander basically screws up your angles. The target areas you expect to be open aren’t, and your defense is open when you think you’re protected. Lefties are used to this and know how to fight right handers, while conventional fighters almost never face southpaws. When Joe Rogan asked Lennox Lewis if lefties ever bothered him, he said he didn’t know because he never had to fight one in his professional career.

    Lots of natural right handers box southpaw. Modern boxing was developed from fencing, but it uses the body almost symetrically -the left and right hand sides are pretty much doing the same actions. Fencing on the other hand is totally asymmetrical and requires a higher level of fine motor skills. It’d be impossible to train a fencer to fence well with his off hand.

  88. Ian M. says:

    You’d never hear that from a rightie.

    Actually, I’m a righty, but I will shoot pool with either my right or my left. And it was with my left that it felt more natural. I had to teach myself to do it with my right.

    That’s the only thing I do with my left hand.

  89. Anon[317] • Disclaimer says:

    Youth baseball will make you choose. They get a joystick or a phone in their hands first now, and electrochemical brain impulses travel down to digits of either arm doing those activities before a bat or glove is perused nowdays.

    Youth is very benfitted by physical activities and team sports me thinks. They learn teamwork, working-for-goals together, unselfishness, being happy with and for others, and how to win and lose.

  90. Svevlad says:

    Eeh, too bad the ng is silent, a more accurate adaptation to English rules would be “Bamban”

  91. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    Hendrix was left hand but preferred right hand guitars, particularly Strats, strung left hand. Dick Dale was left hand and played a left hand guitar, strung right hand but with a very heavy gauge of string.

  92. Polynikes says:

    almost no one is lefty in basketball.

  93. Malcolm Y says:

    I can write with either hand but not equally well. I can only tie my shoes with my left hand but every other knot I know how to tie is with the right hand. When I taught students I often unconsciously, if I was thinking about something, would switch to the other hand while writing on the blackboard. This caused discomfort in a lot of them for some reason.

  94. J1234 says:

    But did Hendrix prefer one because he was used to switching right handed guitars since lefties were too hard to come by? I don’t know much about Hendrix because I never liked his music, but anyway this article seems to imply he was actually ambidextrous (he ate and wrote with right hand.) It also has some interesting things to say about handedness in musicians.

    Paul McCartney chose that model of Hofner in large part because it was symmetrical (unlike most Fender products) and figured it was an easy conversion to left handed. However, he did actually order one made left handed. None could be found where he was. Probably easy for Hofner to do.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  95. Jack D says:

    I think the idea in most instruments is that the more difficult task is normally assigned to the right (dominant) hand. But since you need to use both hands anyway in many instruments, it’s not a big advantage vs. those (e.g.the trumpet) where the non-dominant hand doesn’t have to do anything.

  96. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    I have never seen Hendrix shown with a left handed guitar. There are pictures of him with a Flying V, right handed (not much difference but for the control knob placement) and with a large bodied 12 string acoustic with the pickguard up. The make of guitar is unknown, doesn’t seem to be any common production model. Left handed Fenders were common by the time Hendrix was active, so he preferred the right handed model restrung.

    In the mid 70s there was a mini trend of right handed guitarists using turned over lefty Strats, sometimes with right handed necks, in an effort to look Hendrixy or because of a belief that it would enable them to sound Hendrixier. Stevie Ray Vaughn played right handed Fenders with left handed tremolo systems installed so the bar was on top rather than underneath, which is duplicated on the SRV model replica or tribute production guitars. I don’t think these were actually sold until after his death.

    • Replies: @J1234
  97. MBlanc46 says:

    Some years ago, I became interested in Arabic calligraphy, and had a bit of ago at it. I’m strongly right-handed. I simply could not write the letters right-to-left with my right hand. I switched to using my left hand and was able to write decent letters.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  98. Romanian says: • Website

    This is why lefties aren’t as strongly lefty as many righties are strongly righty.

    Weird. It is the other way around in politics :))

  99. Anon[834] • Disclaimer says:

    And bowling on the less worn side of the lane is nice, even though you simply must have a ball made for you.

    It means also glory and prize money, as being left-handed gives big advantage in bowling tournaments that last several days, because there’s much less adapting to changing conditions.

  100. @MikeatMikedotMike

    I write and throw right handed. I bat and catch and shoot a puck lefty. I never knew any different until I picked up a rifle. I was shooting right handed and very terrible at that. My friend noticed something was wrong that I never ever noticed. I was closing my right eye shooting right, leaning more into the sight. He said close your left eye. I could not!!! He thought it was hilarious. He told me to wink or close my left eye while keeping the right open open. I could not!! I started shooting left. I began to wonder if the serious head injury I suffered form a fall had anything to do with my left eye condition. I do not recall when I was younger if I could or could not wink my left eye. Even trying hard I can not wink my left eye. Same damned problem when I try and do Spock V.. its difficult. When I draw three dimensional objects my vaishing point is always to the right. My ability to learn, read and write was not hampered by this condition.
    My brother was a lefty, threw & caught left. He was a fielder and had to drop his glove to return the ball or make a play.
    I just left my coffee on the counter and now it is cold.

  101. @YetAnotherAnon

    This is probably a simple measure of hygiene where washing one’s hands is not a common habit. The movie Midnight Express has a few dialogue lines that shed some light about this subject.

  102. J1234 says:

    Left handed Fenders were common by the time Hendrix was active, so he preferred the right handed model restrung.

    But maybe not when he was learning, which is when a lot of preferences are developed. I saw a fair number vintage guitars in my business, but rarely saw vintage (old) lefties.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Anonymous
  103. Anonymous[409] • Disclaimer says:

    Simply establishing he did in fact prefer playing a right hand guitar strung left, which meant he couldn’t just pick up an off the shelf guitar. A new nut had to be cut and fitted and the setup redone. This was significant because he went through a lot of guitars in his short career. Back then that was unusual.

    By ‘69 or so he was getting them from Fender for free, but one here, one there. They were stock production pieces. By then many players of Fenders preferred pre CBS models and would scout pawn shops and small town music stores. Hendrix was fine with new ones. He had immense hands and was not critical about setup on his guitars.

    People today think of Hendrix as a technical player, but in fact by the standards of the players and genres he inspired, he really was not. He was often sloppy live. Much of his studio oeuvre was a product of very patient tape editing. I suspect that he not died at what was an opportune time for his career he’d be far less a legend: conversely had Dick Dale died when he was still a regional phenomenon in California, he would be far more famous now.

    Timing is everything. Amy Winehouse probably went too early: Kurt Cobain probably went at about the optimum time for him career wise considering what he actually brought to the table.

    On the other hand, living long and staying active gives one a different and better legendary status. Shelley Winters probably will be considered more significant than Marilyn Monroe in decades to come.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  104. Anonymous[409] • Disclaimer says:

    Also lefties tend to buy and hold guitars they like because lefty guitars are a lot tougher to resell and if you want something specific will likely need to have it made. If you want a lefty Tele with a Birdseye maple board on a straight maple neck and a humbucker in the neck slot, you have it built, and you don’t casually trade or pawn it, because you’ll replace it only at a much higher cost.

  105. handedness was for throwing, not fighting in general. neanderthals were extremely right handed, and humans are highly right handed. i’m not sure why nature picked the right hand. right hand spin of projectiles is better than left hand spin? left eye dominance is more common, leading to synergy with right handed throwing? but hand specialization for males was important for bipedal humanoids. and as pointed out before, 100% of NFL starters, 32 of 32, are right handed. it’s been a while since there was a regular starter who was left handed.

    most writing systems are left to right for this reason, coincidentally.

    “As Rocky points out, lefthanders are widely assumed to have an unfair advantage in boxing.”

    left handed boxers have a FAIR advantage. it’s clear Tyson Fury didn’t even bother to train for the last guy, who must have hours of video showing that’s he left handed. instead, Fury just circled to his right as normal, walking directly into left hands the entire match.

    now that i’m old, i’m starting to see mistakes and problems the way old boxing trainers see them. it’s hard to believe a champion level boxer didn’t even bother to train for a left handed opponent, but we’ve seen this before, when Wladimir Klitschko apparently didn’t bother to train specifically for Corrie Sanders, who hit him with left hand after left hand and flattened him in 2 rounds.

    if handedness was about hand to hand fighting, then humans would be more left handed. more left handed guys would have survived. assuming left handedness can be passed on like any other trait. but handedness was about throwing to kill stuff, so most guys are right handed.

  106. research project for Steve “Money Ball” Sailer:

    how many hall of fame pitchers are right handed, versus left handed? are right handed pitchers over represented on the all time wins list, even more so than their MLB roster numbers, where left handed pitchers are WAY over represented versus the general population? is it basically all right handed pitchers in the modern era of play? who is the lefty with the most wins in the modern era?

  107. @prime noticer

    Ten of 20 top active pitchers in Wins are lefties:

    Rank Player (yrs, age) Wins Throws
    1. CC Sabathia (19, 38) 251 L
    2. Justin Verlander (15, 36) 225 R
    3. Zack Greinke (16, 35) 205 R
    4. Jon Lester (14, 35) 190 L
    5. Max Scherzer (12, 34) 170 R
    6. Felix Hernandez (15, 33) 169 R
    Clayton Kershaw (12, 31) 169 L
    8. Cole Hamels (14, 35) 163 L
    9. Adam Wainwright (14, 37) 162 R
    10. David Price (12, 33) 150 L
    11. Rick Porcello (11, 30) 149 R
    Ervin Santana (15, 36) 149 R
    13. Gio Gonzalez (12, 33) 130 L
    14. Johnny Cueto (12, 33) 126 R
    15. J.A. Happ (13, 36) 121 L
    16. Madison Bumgarner (11, 29) 119 L
    17. Ricky Nolasco (12, 36) 114 R
    18. Francisco Liriano (14, 35) 112 L
    Stephen Strasburg (10, 30) 112 R
    20. Chris Sale (10, 30)

  108. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    What advantage Hendrix would have had in playing upside down guitars is hard to see, other that on Strats the trem bar would be on top instead of on bottom, and that pesky inboard control knob out of the way on the treble side, but all three being an obstruction on the bass side. He tended to get given guitars thru the New York dealers from Fender’s reps, but then he’d have had to have a new nut put on, a whole new setup, and a strap button put on the lower horn.

    I don’t think he did a lot of volume pot tricks, he always had a lot of pedals (for the day) , a volume and wah pedal and a couple of others.

    I suspect it was his idea of fashion.

  109. @prime noticer

    Ten of 20 top active pitchers in Wins are lefties:

    Rank Player (yrs, age) Wins Throws
    1. CC Sabathia (19, 38) 251 L
    2. Justin Verlander (15, 36) 225 R
    3. Zack Greinke (16, 35) 205 R
    4. Jon Lester (14, 35) 190 L
    5. Max Scherzer (12, 34) 170 R
    6. Felix Hernandez (15, 33) 169 R
    Clayton Kershaw (12, 31) 169 L
    8. Cole Hamels (14, 35) 163 L
    9. Adam Wainwright (14, 37) 162 R
    10. David Price (12, 33) 150 L
    11. Rick Porcello (11, 30) 149 R
    Ervin Santana (15, 36) 149 R
    13. Gio Gonzalez (12, 33) 130 L
    14. Johnny Cueto (12, 33) 126 R
    15. J.A. Happ (13, 36) 121 L
    16. Madison Bumgarner (11, 29) 119 L
    17. Ricky Nolasco (12, 36) 114 R
    18. Francisco Liriano (14, 35) 112 L
    Stephen Strasburg (10, 30) 112 R
    20. Chris Sale (10, 30)

    I don’t really get why lefthanded pitchers are so successful. I’m reminded of my argument that there should be a few left handed catchers in big league baseball, but there hasn’t been one since the 1980s. None of the arguments for why lefthanders can’t play catcher sounds decisive although I can imagine they add up.

    With left handed pitchers, they are at a disadvantage versus right handed hitters and there are twice as many of them. But, yet, lefties are hugely successful in baseball.

  110. If your culture does a lot of fighting with swords or spears, is it better to be right-handed or left-handed? As Rocky points out, lefthanders are widely assumed to have an unfair advantage in boxing, but I don’t know about about edged weapons.

    Judges 3: 16-21 indicates that lefthandedness was known as an advantage in ancient days.

  111. @MBlanc46

    I think that’s a smudging issue, no?

  112. @Paleo Liberal

    Analytics favor Grove over Carlton by a substantial margin. Grove is 2nd all time in WPA, Carlton is 29th.

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