The Puzzle of Lefthandedness, Hardback Book

The Puzzle of Lefthandedness Hardback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Left-handedness seems to be no big deal. Many of us are left-handed and those of us who aren't don't tend to give left-handedness much thought.

Yet throughout history left-handers have been associated with clumsiness, untrustworthiness and insincerity.

The Latin word for left, c;i e;sinister c;/i e;, is redolent of all kinds of ominous connotations.

Rik Smits uncovers why history has been so unkind to our left-handed forebears.

Through an array of historical anecdotes, strange superstitions and old wives' tales, Smits explains why left-handedness continues to be associated with maladies of all kinds, including mental retardation, alcoholism, asthma, hay fever, diabetes, insomnia, suicidal urges, criminality and shorter lifespans.

But apart from folklore and myth, the notions of left and right have a real and deep influence on the way we experience the world.

These influences show up everywhere, from engineering and architecture to music, painting, photography, film and comics. This book shows how, contrary to what many might think, left-handers can write just as well as the rest of us, and explores how and why we came to prefer one hand over the other and how left- and right-handedness are represented in the brain.

The greatest puzzle is why in every country one in ten people favours the left hand.

It is a mystery as yet largely unsolved, whose solution may very well lie in the secrets of twinning. c;i e;The Puzzle of Left-handedness c;/i e; is an enlightening and entertaining odyssey through the enigmas and paradoxes, theories and experiments surrounding the left-handed among us.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Popular science
  • ISBN: 9781861898739

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This is an interesting look at left-handedness, the research done about left-handedness (with special and proper bile reserved for Stanley Coren who perpetuated some terrible untruths about left-handedness.The book doesn't offer solutions to left-handedness, just points out that despite opression, there continues to be left-handed people in the world and that diversity should be embraced rather than treated as a issue or problem. He notes that teachers aren't taught how to teach children to write left-handed, although in every class there would be at least 2, if not more. Maybe as well as encouraging left-handed people to "try" their right, teachers should encourage right-handers to "try" their left. By forcing people to use their right people have been stressed, bedwetting, stammers and other nervous disorders have resulted, by trying to make people conform. The only real accomodation teachers should make to left-handed students is to ensure they aren't elbowing their right-handed friend.The world is really made for the majority, but left-handers exist and despite many attempts aren't going anywhere. We're here to stay and the world needs to just give me the room to be me, and quit using the left-handed desks and complaining!It's an interesting look at perception and history, not a general read about left-handedness but I found it an interesting read.

Also by Rik Smits