attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

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On the Other Hand...

Oh, man, I'm so divided about what to write today. I should stick with what I was thinking before I started reading my friends list, but geniealisa  linked to an article that linked to another article (yay, intarwebs) about how Left-handed people are more inhibited.  The commentary on BoingBoing focuses in part on my absolute first thought, which was "well, in a world that is dominated by right-handers, and a culture that up until recently considered lefties to be morally suspect, you're damn right LHer's are more inhibited".

Science and statistics.  You can make it say anything you want if you don't control particularly hard for other factors, such as, oh I don't know, the fact that the entire world is not made for you if you are left handed?

I find this kind of stuff rather irritating, since I'm in statistics, and know a bad study when I see one.  Adding to my irritation, I'm ambidextrous, but I trend to the left, and I clearly remember feeling like an absolute failure for being made fun of in handwriting classes as a child*.  Being a massive overachiever, I not only learned to write with my right hand, I learned to write in beautiful cursive, then calligraphy. 

...the pens for calligraphy are designed for right-handers, too.  Fuck y'all.

I can write legibly and reasonably well with my left hand, considering I don't practice much.  I can knit and sew with either hand, and I use my left hand first for most everyday tasks, like putting my keys in the door (designed to turn to the right, for right-handers), putting away cups and plates (right-handed cupboard doors), opening the fridge (ditto), and a million other things that would really wear down on me if I wasn't secure in my own absolute brilliance.

Yes, I make lists.  So does Bob, who is unrepentantly right-handed.  If we didn't make lists, we'd forget something.  We have an awful lot of things going at once; lists are rather necessary.

But I'm not particularly inhibited, no more so than many people I know.  I get anxious about certain things, but I jump feet-first into others.  Aren't most people that way? 

But back to the science - or at least part of it.  It is almost impossible to get a clear unaffected study of how people feel and behave, because an adult is the result of their upbringing - a right-handed child brought up by overbearing parents who are very rigid in their views might possibly be inhibited, anxious, and nervous.  They're just as likely to be covered in piercings, tattoos, and own a Harley, of course, but who they are is an inevitable result of how their life shaped them.  You can't make pronouncements about brain function and emotions without encountering the different ways life shapes us from our very first days out of the womb - it's one of the reasons twin studies are so valuable (and so coveted in the scientific community).  With twins, especially ones raised apart, you have a real chance at sorting brain function and hard-wiring from upbringing and life experience.  If you really wanted to know how left and right handed people differ in brain function, you'd need at least 8 sets of twins (16 people, natch), four of which are right-handed, four of which are left-handed.

(Oops.  See my bias in that last sentence?  I automatically put the right-handed people first, even though alphabetically, the left should go first.  This kind of unconscious dominance bias messes with scientific findings all the time.)

Naturally, that kind of study is almost impossible to pull off - for starters, you need to find that many twins, and make sure they qualify for the study (right left-handed, right-handed, raised apart, old enough to participate, etc.).  Then, you pray that they agree to participate (without informed consent, there are no people trials, even if they're not taking any medications).  Then you pray that they answer your calls when it's time for them to come in for their appointments.  Then you pray they don't drop out/move away/change their handedness (it could happen).  Then, and only then, do you have a chance of pulling together some meaningful data (which may prove, after all that, that your initial idea has no basis in reality, and you are full of shit).

That kind of study is way too hard, and seriously interferes with the regular Scientist schedule of parties, drinking games, and playing Solitaire on the internet (it's true - I'm drinking a martini as I write this).  Most scientists just grab a bunch of college age kids (they're always up for stuff like this), ask them a bunch of questions, collect the data, and call it a day.

...And then it gets reported, and various sections of society get to feel bad about themselves, as if dealing with right-handed scissors wasn't trial enough for one lifetime.

(Seriously, have you ever tried to use regular scissors with your left hand?  It takes concentration, and is irritating as hell.)

I have an advantage over the dedicated lefties who cannot adapt their hands - the writing aside (They made me do it!  I was only following orders!), I can switch back and forth from hand to hand with little difficulty**, and right-handed desks don't cause me to hit my funny bone every thirty seconds, the right-handed mouse on my computer is not a problem, and I've adapted my workspace to handle pretty much anything from any side (though the space heater is on the left, so I can warm my attack hand).

I can also paint my nails, do a manicure, and add little teeny tiny rhinestones to the nails on both hands (they are super pretty rhinestones) with no difficulty.  But holy hell, lefties are more insecure?  Did it ever occur to anyone running, writing, editing, or reviewing that study that maybe lefties have a reason to feel anxious about fitting into a right-handed world, and it has nothing to do with whether they're right or left brained?


*Yes, I had handwriting classes.  I had to "learn" handwriting every day from age 4 to age 11.  My ability to write in a clear elegant cursive owes nothing to those classes except for the humiliation that spurred me on to write better than everyone else.  Never underestimate the motivating power of revenge.

**I can also write my name with a pen held in my toes, but it's not pretty.  I am a master of useless and slightly disturbing talents.
Tags: humour, idiots, rant, science
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