Being Left Handed

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What do Marilyn Monroe, Paul McCartney, Billy the Kid, Pablo Picasso, and Leonardo DeVinci have in common? On the surface, not much. But on closer inspection, one can see a small similarity: they are all left-handers.

Years ago, being a lefty was considered an ill-omen. In Colonial days, it was thought that the left hand was the devil's hand. Being left-handed could even get a person accused and convicted of witchcraft. Even within the past century, left-handedness was frowned upon. Teachers and parents of a young lefty would sometimes tie the left hand behind the child's back to discourage use. Nuns in Catholic schools would give a tap in the wrist with a ruler to chastise the child for using his or her left hand. Due to these punishments, there are few true left-handed people in their sixties or older. Those who are left-handed usually have equal or greater use of their right hand, due to years of forced usage.

In 1994, being left-handed does not hold the stigma that it used to. Today, 10-15% of the world's population is left-handed, and the number is growing. The growth in number of southpaws could be due to the fact that left-handedness is no longer taboo. The left-to-right ratio has narrowed so much in the past few years that companies are now making products to suit lefties' needs, including rulers, ladles, Turkish coffee pots, notebooks, scissors, knives, ice cream scoops, and saws. Most people do not realize that some of these items can cause hassles for the average lefty. For example, spouts on coffee pots are usually placed for easy pouring when the handle is in the right hand, which holds true for soup ladles and measuring cups. The binder on a notebook presents problems for lefty students: the metal spiral rests under the arm, which causes discomfort when writing.

No one knows what causes left-handedness, but some scientists have come up with a few theories. One is that left-handedness is genetic. This a plausible since studies show that a...
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