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(io9)   It seems like such a simple question, but it's actually one of the most biggest mysteries in all of science: Why are most people right-handed?   (io9.com) divider line 69
    More: Interesting, sciences, Discover Magazine, psychologies, left brain, left-handedness, specialty, macaques, neurobiologists  
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4056 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 May 2013 at 6:15 AM (49 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-05-06 01:51:05 AM
Because most people are not gifted, creative, free-thinkers?
 
2013-05-06 03:17:16 AM
Most biggest, huh?
 
2013-05-06 06:25:53 AM

ZeroCorpse: Most biggest, huh?


Is that like an electron being one of the most smallest particles?
 
2013-05-06 06:27:24 AM

ZeroCorpse: Most biggest, huh?


It should be most largest.
 
2013-05-06 06:35:07 AM

Fark Me To Tears: Because most people are not gifted, creative, free-thinkers?


Because most of us aren't cursed by devils and witches, of course.
 
2013-05-06 06:35:11 AM
I am sure there is some sinister reason.
 
2013-05-06 06:44:36 AM

ADHD Librarian: I am sure there is some sinister reason


How gauche!
 
2013-05-06 06:45:39 AM
Because Adam was right handed.  WAKE UP SHEEPLE!
 
2013-05-06 06:46:45 AM
Because "I am not right-handed" does not sound nearly as bad-ass when Inigo says it.
 
2013-05-06 06:53:21 AM
My completely unscientifically sound theory is that your dominant hand/arm is more likely to be injured than your off hand. Left arm injuries being closer to the heart, and thus making injuries every so slightly more threatening.

Whether it was australopithecus clubbing a lion with a tree limb, neanderthal spearing a mammoth, Roman swordsman slaughtering european celts, it's the dominant hand that's getting put in the path of danger. Even if you are only 1% more likely to bleed out from a left arm injury than a right arm, that becomes significant over a few hundred thousand years of breeding.

/just pulling that out of my ass
//with my right hand
 
2013-05-06 06:53:32 AM
When I was a kid the teacher made me take the pencil out of my left hand and use it in my right hand despite the fact I could do either just as well.
 
2013-05-06 06:54:26 AM

ZeroCorpse: Most biggest, huh?


Subby just suffered brain damage while still in the womb, much like lefties.
 
2013-05-06 06:59:54 AM
how is this a simple question?
 
2013-05-06 07:15:51 AM

neongoats: Left arm injuries being closer to the heart, and thus making injuries every so slightly more threatening.


Nope.  The heart's center of gravity is offset, but the heart is really in the center of your chest.  It's a combination of the large left ventricle and the fact that you can't feel your heartbeat through your sternum that leads to the belief that the heart is on the left side.  The heart is a very powerful pump; when you feel your heartbeat that's just the small part of it that's peeking from behind the breastbone pushing everything around it.  I suppose it's possible for a very rare hit to pierce the left ventricle, but in the days before modern ERs when we evolved these adaptations, anything that gets past the ribs is probably going to kill.

As for why most people are right-handed, the article explains it pretty well.  Having a dominant hand is an evolutionary advantage that predates humans, and the part of the brain that handles fine motor control is generally the left, and each half generally controls the opposite side of the body, so -- most people are right-handed.  There's no reason why the arrangement couldn't have been flipped, but once it set in it was advantageous, so right-handed people came to dominate the population.  However, the advantage isn't quite so overwhelming that being left-handed was a death sentence, so southpaws aren't rare either and many species get along fine without a hand preference at all.  What science lacks is conclusive evidence, which is going to be difficult because the differences aren't so dramatic.
 
2013-05-06 07:27:07 AM
Nobody wants to fark a lefty. Book it, done.
 
2013-05-06 07:27:40 AM

digistil: ZeroCorpse: Most biggest, huh?

Subby just suffered brain damage while still in the womb, much like lefties.


No, subby read the first sentence of the article.

/not subby
 
2013-05-06 08:01:26 AM
I was once told that there is a physical difference which can determine handedness. Look at the thumbnail on both hands. The thumbnail which has the widest base (farthest from the tip) is generally the dominant hand. I have no bloody idea whether or not this is so across a large segment of the population. The number of people I have asked about this all seem to confirm the "theory" (for lack of a better term), but the sam,ple size is necessarily small.

Assuming this old wives' tale has some basis in fact, this does not necessarily mean anything. Physical changes of the sort I described could just as easily be the result of increased use of one hand over the other, and not necessarily the result of genetic differences.

Handedness- at least in my case- does not appear to be universal through the body. I am right-handed, but left eye and ear dominant. I also tend to use my left hand for tasks requiring strength but not fine motor control. Again, anecdote does not equal data, and a sample size of one doess not a statistical trend make.
 
2013-05-06 08:07:39 AM
dragonchild:
As for why most people are right-handed, the article explains it pretty well.  Having a dominant hand is an evolutionary advantage that predates humans, and the part of the brain that handles fine motor control is generally the left, and each half generally controls the opposite side of the body, so -- most people are right-handed.

I guess this explains why my fine motor control is shiat and I had to go to physical therapy for my lack of motor skills in preschool/kindergarten.
 
2013-05-06 08:07:56 AM
Left handed people can't get the sugar.
 
2013-05-06 08:10:01 AM
It's because mu-pion decay leads to particles that weakly favor left-handed spin.  It's the Universe's way of balancing things out.
 
2013-05-06 08:11:11 AM
Because so few people are in their right mind.
 
2013-05-06 08:11:56 AM
Oh for shame. No mention of the fact that the gray/white matter ratios differ in the left and right hemispheres? Or that they seem to be differentially specialized for approach and avoidance behaviour? And that going from a tiger-bait protosymian to a tiger-skin wearing sapiens might affect the differential payoffs of each kind of behaviour?
 
2013-05-06 08:19:39 AM

Ghastly: When I was a kid the teacher made me take the pencil out of my left hand and use it in my right hand despite the fact I could do either just as well.


Same here. She would not let me write with my left. This was 20 years ago, and I haven't heard of anyone else who had a similar situation. Well, before now, I mean.
 
2013-05-06 08:20:12 AM
Ah, there it is:

"In some aspects, the hemispheres are asymmetrical, one side is slightly bigger. There are higher levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine on the right and higher levels of dopamine on the left. There is more white matter (longer axons) on right and more grey matter (cell bodies) on the left."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_hemisphere#Hemisphere_laterali za tion
 
2013-05-06 08:22:29 AM
Cultural norms? I bet we could make a whole generation left handed if we normalized it.
 
2013-05-06 08:25:52 AM
aaaand:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11031-012-9306-5

"The two hemispheres of the brain appear to play different roles in emotion and/or motivation. A great deal of previous research has examined the valence hypothesis (left hemisphere = positive; right = negative), but an increasing body of work has supported the motivational hypothesis (left hemisphere = approach; right = avoidance) as an alternative. The present investigation (N = 117) sought to provide novel support for the latter perspective. Left versus right hemispheres were briefly activated by neutral lateralized auditory primes. Subsequently, participants categorized approach versus avoidance words as quickly and accurately as possible. Performance in the task revealed that approach-related thoughts were more accessible following left-hemispheric activation, whereas avoidance-related thoughts were more accessible following right-hemispheric activation. The present results are the first to examine such lateralized differences in accessible motivational thoughts, which may underlie more "downstream" manifestations of approach and avoidance motivation such as judgments, decision making, and behavior. "


Point being - one of the biggest differences between left and right hemispheres is that one (left handed) is optimised for avoiding predators, while the other (right handed) is optimised for  being a predator. Gee - wonder why left hemisphere (right handed) dominance became more prevalent in the last million years of primate evolution??

/explains why you righty @&#@$ are always preying on us...
 
2013-05-06 08:31:02 AM

wildcardjack: Cultural norms? I bet we could make a whole generation left handed if we normalized it.


I'd have gone with this.
The left hand in many eastern cultures (and places without modern sanitation) is used for personal business. Meaning its simply impolite to be left handed.
As to what enforces this rule in the US, it probably has no small part to do with how we write.

/Smudged my way through high school.
/Left handed notebooks are for geeks.
 
2013-05-06 08:34:11 AM
It's so that I, as a member of the left handed master race, can feel special and important despite have virtually no redeeming qualities
 
2013-05-06 08:34:24 AM

faerniir: Ghastly: When I was a kid the teacher made me take the pencil out of my left hand and use it in my right hand despite the fact I could do either just as well.

Same here. She would not let me write with my left. This was 20 years ago, and I haven't heard of anyone else who had a similar situation. Well, before now, I mean.


I was never forced to write with my right hand, but I can if I have to.  Any kind of key pad I do with my right.
 
2013-05-06 08:37:41 AM
Fap with the right hand, turn pages the pages of High Society with the left.
 
2013-05-06 08:40:43 AM
Because DNA is right handed.
 
2013-05-06 08:46:08 AM
A Japanese practitioner of Chinese medicine once told methat everyone is right-handed because the liver is heavy. You lean to the left a tiny bit to compensate, so the left side naturally becomes a pivot for the whole body. This leaves the right hand and leg as the more coordinated limbs because they don't have to anchor you and are free to move about.

I believe what he told me. I feel like modern Western medicine has really lost touch with the human condition. We have no idea how to cure simple diseases that the wise sages of the far east have dealt with for centuries. Autism-causing vaccinations and crazy pills are no match for a fare trade organic diet and homeopathic remedies. The problem is that the general public has these "medicines" pushed on it by dirty republicans whose pockets are lined by big pharma. How can you trust them to cure you when they don't even believe in evolution?

/Support free thinking
 
2013-05-06 09:04:45 AM

Likwit: A Japanese practitioner of Chinese medicine once told methat everyone is right-handed because the liver is heavy. You lean to the left a tiny bit to compensate, so the left side naturally becomes a pivot for the whole body. This leaves the right hand and leg as the more coordinated limbs because they don't have to anchor you and are free to move about.

I believe what he told me. I feel like modern Western medicine has really lost touch with the human condition. We have no idea how to cure simple diseases that the wise sages of the far east have dealt with for centuries. Autism-causing vaccinations and crazy pills are no match for a fare trade organic diet and homeopathic remedies. The problem is that the general public has these "medicines" pushed on it by dirty republicans whose pockets are lined by big pharma. How can you trust them to cure you when they don't even believe in evolution?

/Support free thinking


I support free thinking and I also support free speech. I will make use of aforementioned freedom of speech to say that you sound crazy as hell right now.
 
2013-05-06 09:07:56 AM

faerniir: Ghastly: When I was a kid the teacher made me take the pencil out of my left hand and use it in my right hand despite the fact I could do either just as well.

Same here. She would not let me write with my left. This was 20 years ago, and I haven't heard of anyone else who had a similar situation. Well, before now, I mean.


This would be 42 years ago for me so if they were still doing that 20 years ago I'd imagine there would be a lot of people in the same boat.
 
2013-05-06 09:08:22 AM

way south: wildcardjack: Cultural norms? I bet we could make a whole generation left handed if we normalized it.

I'd have gone with this.
The left hand in many eastern cultures (and places without modern sanitation) is used for personal business. Meaning its simply impolite to be left handed.
As to what enforces this rule in the US, it probably has no small part to do with how we write.

/Smudged my way through high school.
/Left handed notebooks are for geeks.


Hey, I liked by southpaw professors. They didn't stand in front of their farking whiteboard writings. Think about it for a minute.
 
2013-05-06 09:43:36 AM
George H W Bush, Bob Dole (after his war injury) , Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama.

All left handed.


George W Bush, Sarah Palin.

Right handed.
 
2013-05-06 09:52:18 AM

digistil: ZeroCorpse: Most biggest, huh?

Subby just suffered brain damage while still in the womb, much like lefties.


Subby smoked quite a bit and drank a bottle of Sailor Jerry's last night. MAN that grammar is terrible, sorry 'bout that. Looked great through the drunk goggles.

/subby
//2nd green in 48 hrs!
 
2013-05-06 09:54:16 AM

moothemagiccow: Nobody wants to fark a lefty.


If you say so.

Likwit: We have no idea how to cure simple diseases that the wise sages of the far east have dealt with for centuries. Autism-causing vaccinations and crazy pills are no match for a fare trade organic diet and homeopathic remedies. The problem is that the general public has these "medicines" pushed on it by dirty republicans whose pockets are lined by big pharma. How can you trust them to cure you when they don't even believe in evolution?


I'm not sure who's being trolled with this.
 
2013-05-06 10:01:51 AM
So, does science finally have the right answer?
 
2013-05-06 10:06:15 AM
Even bigger question... Why does the chemistry of life demonstrates chirality? Who knows, maybe it's related to something as basic and subtle as that...

It's also interesting that, as the article mentions, "dominant handedness" isn't a clear-cut idea. I participated in some brain imaging studies a few years back, and they gave us a questionnaire asking about things like which foot you use to step up on the first step of a staircase or how you lace up shoes, things like that that you don't really think about. It turned out (at least for me) that my non-dominiant side got a lot more use than I had thought.
 
2013-05-06 10:24:04 AM
left brain, right hand.   no question about it, we've bred for communication skills.
 
2013-05-06 10:32:00 AM

moothemagiccow: Nobody wants to fark a lefty. Book it, done.


Well that meshes with my experience.

/lefty
//hasn't had a date in years, let alone a fark
///does get discounts at the local sex shops now
\\\took the matter in hand
 
2013-05-06 10:41:23 AM

prjindigo: no question about it, we've bred for communication skills.


I fail to see the evidence.
 
2013-05-06 10:57:01 AM
Being a "lefty" I've found it to be a huge advantage... lots of things are easier to use, a computer keyboard for example, many tools, which I get to work better for it.

Because of it, I find that being obliged to use my right hand under some circumstances, forced me to be more ambidextrous than right-handed people, so yet another advantage.

I've developed many skills with either hand and am conscious to which hand will function better at the task I do.

The funniest thing is watching a right-handed person try to use their left hand at a detailed task, it's like their hand is covered in butter and only has thumbs.
 
2013-05-06 11:02:55 AM

Ghastly: faerniir: Ghastly: When I was a kid the teacher made me take the pencil out of my left hand and use it in my right hand despite the fact I could do either just as well.

Same here. She would not let me write with my left. This was 20 years ago, and I haven't heard of anyone else who had a similar situation. Well, before now, I mean.

This would be 42 years ago for me so if they were still doing that 20 years ago I'd imagine there would be a lot of people in the same boat.


Well, she was one of those old, strict first grade teachers. She made me miss recess sometimes to recolor animals "their real colors" because I made them pink or something.
 
2013-05-06 11:39:01 AM

moothemagiccow: Nobody wants to fark a lefty. Book it, done.


i105.photobucket.com

Your move.
 
2013-05-06 11:50:20 AM
I'm a lefty when I write, when I play pool and when I play fooseball. All other things in my life are better done with my right hand, so far as I know.

I don't get it, but whatever, being left-handed is far from a crutch besides not being able to write with a pen without getting ink stains all over my hand.
 
2013-05-06 11:57:41 AM
I'm mixed-dominant, so I do different things with each hand. Write, brush teeth, use a fork, bat, and golf left-handed. But I actually use my right hand for most other things like cutting with scissors, throwing, and just about everything else. I can't switch the tasks between the hands except for one, using a computer mouse which I can do with either hand. Still, I'm not quite as good using a computer mouse left handed as right.

I remember in the first few grade school years while learning to write, I wrote left-handed because I used my stronger right hand to hold the paper and move the paper around while writing. So I don't think it's totally correct to state that the writing hand is the person's handedness, like in the article.
 
2013-05-06 11:58:42 AM

faerniir: Ghastly: When I was a kid the teacher made me take the pencil out of my left hand and use it in my right hand despite the fact I could do either just as well.

Same here. She would not let me write with my left. This was 20 years ago, and I haven't heard of anyone else who had a similar situation. Well, before now, I mean.


I missed out on so many recesses back in the day cause my teacher was convinced she could get me writing cursive with my right hand even though it was obvious I'm a leftie. 15 years later, nobody uses cursive except to scrawl an illegible signature.

/bitter
 
2013-05-06 12:03:18 PM

imfallen_angel: Being a "lefty" I've found it to be a huge advantage... lots of things are easier to use, a computer keyboard for example, many tools, which I get to work better for it.

Because of it, I find that being obliged to use my right hand under some circumstances, forced me to be more ambidextrous than right-handed people, so yet another advantage.

I've developed many skills with either hand and am conscious to which hand will function better at the task I do.

The funniest thing is watching a right-handed person try to use their left hand at a detailed task, it's like their hand is covered in butter and only has thumbs.


I agree, being mixed-handed is pretty useful. I can generally attempt a task with either hand - I can never quite predict which hand will be the better one for a task I've never done before.

On the other hand (hehe), being mixed-handed can be pretty annoying. I often confuse myself by being able to, say, pick up objects equally as well with both hands. For instance, I'll get out of my car and grab my keys in whatever hand and put them in that pocket, then proceed to load my arms up with groceries, then get to the door and realize that I put my keys in the pocket of the arm holding most of the bags. Then I get all wonky figuring out how to reach across to the other pocket and/or just drop the groceries and unlock the door :S

(1st world mixed-dominant problems)
 
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