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The question my frequently asked at a book signing:
“Oh, you’re left handed?”

This is also the stupidest question that I am asked at book signings because I am asked this question while signing a book with my left hand.

So yes, I am left handed. Actually, like most left handers, I am slightly ambidextrous. Living in a world built for right handed people (which is why we are more prone to accidents and die sooner), left handers often learn to do things with either hand in order to compensate for life in this alien environment.

left_handed

I play baseball right handed (the effect of being given the hand-me-down glove of a right handed player) but can swing the bat from the left side of the plate almost as well.  I lack the power of my right handed stance, but I can be fairly effective when needed.

As a result of my right handed dominance in baseball, I also play golf right handed, which may explain some of my troubles.

I play basketball almost equally well with both hands and can shoot with either hand as well.

Watch me eat and you’ll see that I could be holding my fork with either hand and may even switch between bites.

As a pole vaulter, I used to make my coach crazy by shifting from a right handed to a left handed stance almost unconsciously.

Regardless, I am not really ambidextrous. I write exclusively with my left hand and favor my left in most other circumstances.

Recently I learned that five of the last six Presidents were left handed, including President Obama. In addition, former Presidential hopefuls John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, John Edwards, Bill Bradley, and Ross Perot are left handed.

In fact, the only two right handed Presidents of the last 35 years were Carter and George W. Bush.

Draw your own conclusions.

I have been fascinated with the topic of handedness for some time. Specifically, I have always wondered why there are significantly fewer left handed individuals in the world.  It turns out that scientists have no idea why this is so.

One of my students once did a research project on handedness and cited a researcher who conjectured that right hand dominance relates to as time when soldiers fought with swords and shields. The right handed soldier would carry his sword in his right hand and his shield in his left, thus offering more protection for the heart, which is located on the left side of the body. For a left handed soldier, his heart would be on his sword side and thus frightfully exposed. If left handed soldiers were more frequently killed because of the exposure of their heart to the enemy, the genetic material that these soldiers would then pass on as part of the rape and looting of vanquished countries would be significantly reduced, thus diluting the propensity for the population to be born left handed.

This, however, is one man’s guess, but it’s an interesting, albeit unsupported hypothesis.

This same student also pointed out (correctly) that murderers and other violent criminals are more likely to be left handed as well.

I think she was trying to hurt my feelings.

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