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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Southpaws are Natural Born Killers

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Author Topic: Southpaws are Natural Born Killers
WarrsawPact
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Being a lefty myself, this Economist article was of interest to me.
"A sinister advantage: A possible reason why left-handedness is rare but not extinct"

Apparently, left-handedness is good in a fight. Righties are less likely to have fought lefties, but lefties are mroe likely to have fought righties. So lefites are more likely to take advantage of the awkwardness of fighting someone with their strong boxing hand on the same "side" as their own.

quote:
As any schoolboy could tell you, winning fights enhances your status. If, in prehistory, this translated into increased reproductive success, it might have been enough to maintain a certain proportion of left-handers in the population, by balancing the costs of being left-handed with the advantages gained in fighting. If that is true, then there will be a higher proportion of left-handers in societies with higher levels of violence, since the advantages of being left-handed will be enhanced in such societies.
[...]
By trawling the literature, checking with police departments, and even going out into the field and asking people, the two researchers found that the proportion of left-handers in a traditional society is, indeed, correlated with its homicide rate.
[...]
While there is no suggestion that left-handed people are more violent than the right-handed, it looks as though they are more successfully violent. Perhaps that helps to explain the double meaning of the word “sinister”.

*whistles*

[ December 13, 2004, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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Wayward Son
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I know in European fencing, the left-hander always had the advantage over the right-hander, because lefties had always trained with righties, but not vice-versa.

What threw them off was when they had to face another leftie, with whom they had as little experience as us righties did. [Big Grin]

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RickyB
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Um, yeah. Anybody who follows Baseball to any extent knows there are advantages to being lefty.
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JoshuaD
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And we're just cooler than you righties. [Big Grin]
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Naldiin
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Not always true though. In most organized warfare up to and including napoleonic combat, being left-handed had implications that would ruin a phalanx, a testudo, or a mustket formation.

So while in single-combat there is an advantage, in formation, a left-handed person is totally useless. Spartens killed left-handed babies along with deformed ones because they were utterly useless in a Phalanx.

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The Drake
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I think you could probably handle a spear in your off-hand, couldn't you? And how did the spartans know which hand babies favored?
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Sunil Carspecken
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Yeah, it's an advantage in tennis too (although not a huge one).

I wonder about Real Time Strategy games though. My leftie brother seems really slow with a mouse when he plays Warcraft III and that puts him at a big disadvantage. I don't know if it's just because I've played the game like 100x more than he is or because of the left handedness. I realize he could put the mouse on the left side of the keyboard, but he's not used to that. We play World of Warcraft now so no matter.

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FIJC
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Gosh, and all my life people just told me that meant I was more artistic, LOL. I never believed that anyway.
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aupton15
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In baseball a right-handed hitter is supposed to have an advantage over a left-handed pitcher, right? Never worked out for me, but just about every pitcher who didn't actually hit me had an advantage over me.
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Gaoics79
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"And how did the spartans know which hand babies favored?"

That's what I was wondering [Smile]

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ATW
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quote:
Originally posted by FIJC:
Gosh, and all my life people just told me that meant I was more artistic,

Was that "artistic" or "autistic"? [Wink]


Spiral staircases in castles are built to favor right-handed defenders. So left-handed attackers would have an advantage over other attackers but left-handed defenders would be at a disadvantage compared to other defenders.

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ed
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i should point out that the history of civilization is rather short and hence the value or detriment of left-handedness in formation fighting is, evolutionarily speaking, a recent fad.

my suspicion is that spartans would examine which hand the baby used to reach for whatever the spartans used for a rattle. knowing what little i know of their society however, the likelihood that a spartan rattle existed in the first place however seems pretty small. :>

as a lefty and former fencer myself, i can tell you that i unleashed an unholy terror in my friend jim. we were the two premier foil guys on our team and he's a righty, so we usually practiced together. when he got to college, he ate every left he met for lunch, for which he often thanked me. :>

ed

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Wayward Son
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quote:
And how did the spartans know which hand babies favored?
IIRC, the Spartans threw a sword at the baby. If he caught it with his right hand, he was a righty. If he caught it with his left hand, they figured he was a lefty. And if he didn't catch it...well, he wouldn't have made a good Spartan anyway. [Wink]
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Wayward Son
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BTW, for anyone who bought that last story, I have a great deal on some land in Florida you might be interest in...
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Robertson, Ugly and Nohow
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quote:
While there is no suggestion that left-handed people are more violent than the right-handed, it looks as though they are more successfully violent
Successfully violent? Ha, I can barely cut paper.
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
Apparently, left-handedness is good in a fight. Righties are less likely to have fought lefties, but lefties are mroe likely to have fought righties. So lefites are more likely to take advantage of the awkwardness of fighting someone with their strong boxing hand on the same "side" as their own.

Back when I studied kung fu, my teacher always made us work our weakest hand/leg harder. He'd say "You shouldn't be right or left handed." Same with my lacrosse coach (to a lesser extent).

In Kendo, however, I learned "No left hand in Kendo!". Which seems to mesh with something else I've heard: "No left hand in Japan!". I wonder if they "Spartaned" them all out?

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ed
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AA: it's common in many cultures, including asian ones, to "correct" a child's left-handed inclinations.

ed

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
AA: it's common in many cultures, including asian ones, to "correct" a child's left-handed inclinations.

That happened to my brother in this culture. His grade school teacher whacked his left hand with a ruler if he tried to use it to perform tasks. Now he's ambidextrous.
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aupton15
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"Successfully violent? Ha, I can barely cut paper."

I hope you're not trying to cut that paper in Philly public schools. They'll arrest you.

Are you using left-handed scissors? The biggest complaints I hear from my left-handed friends are that the world isn't set up for them. All kinds of appliances, automobiles, everything seems to be set up for the right-handed. I guess this isn't a new development, as any left-handed defender of the castle can tell you...or could tell you before a righty stabbed him.

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Robertson, Ugly and Nohow
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quote:
The biggest complaints I hear from my left-handed friends are that the world isn't set up for them
Too true
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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by ATW:
Spiral staircases in castles are built to favor right-handed defenders. So left-handed attackers would have an advantage over other attackers but left-handed defenders would be at a disadvantage compared to other defenders.

I wonder if there were any switch-hitters back then, who attacked lefty and defended righty?
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ed
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aupton: don't forget joysticks & mice. :>

AA: how old is he? i'm very surprised by that; i thought that sort of thing stopped in this country before WW2.

ed

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
AA: how old is he? i'm very surprised by that; i thought that sort of thing stopped in this country before WW2.

He's 26. To be fair, we lived in the Sticks -- so it was a little behind the times.
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Gaoics79
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"And if he didn't catch it...well, he wouldn't have made a good Spartan anyway."

LOL

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The Drake
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Lefties are constantly being abused on ornery, when will the suffering end? [Big Grin]
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Wayward Son
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When it finally comes to fisticuffs, obviously, since you guys have the advantage. [Wink]
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WarrsawPact
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Is it possible to run a poll? I'm getting the distinct impression there are more lefties as a percentage on Ornery than in the general populace.

I'm a lefty.
=====================
As for cutting paper, I saw the writing on the wall and started using righty scissors from the beginning. I was sure they thought I was a retard (pardon the language, but really) for giving me these stubby soft-edged can't-cut-ANYthing scissors. Whoever designed lefty scissors for kids wasn't a lefty.
... just like I can't imagine ties being invented by a man or high heels being invented by a woman. They seem to deliberately put the user in harm's way for the entertainment of the opposite sex.
=================
My grandma was born lefty, too, but they switched her to rightie in school.
=================
Naldiin - The researchers studied traditional societies beecause more advanced societies all seemed to have mechanisms for bias against lefties.

Sunil - I also wonder if my left-handedness hampers my ability in FPS and RTS games. I am just a little less accurate than my brain is, and I notice I'm better at footwork in the FPS and MMO games (requiring the WASD keys under the left hand) and using THAT to set up my aim. My hand-eye coordination for my right hand is noticeably lower than for my left.
My positioning in FPS games and in MMO's like World of WarCraft (Kel'Thuzad server, Horde) is superior, bt my mousework is sub-par. So I do everything I can with hotkeys and positioning, making me a near-ideal mage.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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I wonder if eye-dominance affects anything? I know I am right-handed, but left eye dominant. While not an issue for most things, it used to make pistol shooting (self defense/natural selection in the modern age) a bit of a pain.

--Firedrake

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WarrsawPact
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Ooh, interesting.

I wonder what the correlation is, genetically, between eye dominance, hand and foot preference?

I'm left-eye dominant, left-handed, but right-footed.

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musket
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In sabre, which I fenced for many years way back when (got as far as eighth alternate to the US Olympic Team in 1967) being lefty confers no special advantage. I never had any trouble dispatching lefties unless they were just plain a lot better than me all around. With a cutting weapon, rather than one that's strictly for point attacks, the advantage is pretty much neutralized. Just as easy to stop-cut a lefty's weapon arm, maybe more so. It'll depend on who has the better preparation, reflexes and timing, not handedness.

[ December 14, 2004, 09:00 PM: Message edited by: musket ]

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ed
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musket, i posit that at the levels at which you competed (congratulations on that achievement, btw!), right-handed fencers would have all found lefties against whom to practice, or at least coaches who could negate whatever advantage arises from the unfamiliarity of opposing a southpaw. that advantage would, i should think, be confined to the relatively untrained populace.

ed

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kidzmom
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Hi, I'm kidzmom, and I'm a leftie [Wink]

I had the advantage of growing up in a family that was evenly split on handedness--one parent, one boy, one girl of each (figure the odds on that!). My dh was naturally a lefty, forced into righthandedness. He is "sort of" ambidextrous, and his handwriting is atrocious. My oldest son (actually, stepson)should've been a lefty, too, but his granny (dh's mom) forced him to use his right hand (before we were married, and she kept him for my dh). His handwriting is nearly unreadable, but he's great at computer & video games! [Big Grin] I'm very left-sided, but have never gotten good at mousing left; I'm not that good with my right hand either, but I try. I feel very alone now, because NOT ONE of my 6 children are left-handed! I think that's just not fair, somehow...

I fenced during college (foil), and had a definite advantage at that level. Combined with being sort of short (barely 5' tall), could use it to get inside someone's guard (smaller target, "wrong" side) pretty quickly, at least the first few times we fenced. My main problem was "the rules" (for foil)--I usually forgot to riposte properly, and went straight to counterattack. Well, guess it would've been a good thing IRL! [Big Grin]

edited to add: as far as more violent...well, I like sharp, pointy things! [Wink] and don't ever threaten my chocolate stash! [Eek!]

[ December 15, 2004, 10:14 AM: Message edited by: kidzmom ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
My main problem was "the rules" (for foil)--I usually forgot to riposte properly, and went straight to counterattack. Well, guess it would've been a good thing IRL! [Big Grin]
Only if your opponent didn't hit you in the attack. [Wink]

I studied under Charles Selberg at Santa Cruz, and one day he brought a real epee into class. He explained how it was a finely crafted weapon, that could pierce our skulls like a hot knife through butter. We put our hands up, and he would prick each of our palms, to feel the needle-sharp point. Then each one of us faced him with it, with our dinky little practice foils. [Eek!]

First, he would point it at our face and challenge us. If we would attack without first pushing that epee aside, we could have everything he had: his house, his car, his secret stash of dope, everything. He even assured us that, if we were lucky, we might lose only an eye.

Oddly enough, in the 20+ years he taught, no one took him up on the offer. [Smile]

Then, we had to parry. He would come at us with the weapon, and we would have to nudge it aside. Most people made these huge parries, but when it was my turn, I was cool. I made this smooth and slow parry, just nudging it aside. Whereas Selberg glared at me and said, "Show some passion," and came at me FAST. It's amazing how quickly I found some passion. [Eek!]

So in real life, there is a good reason to parry before counterattacking. When it's your, ah, buttocks on the line, the priority quickly becomes protecting it. [Smile]

(Which, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the subject, but it's one of my favorite stories. [Big Grin] )

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kidzmom
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lol, great story, WS! Yep, parrying is a good thing... I'm afraid my "training" was simply 2 semesters at A&M, in the P.E. program (beat the heck out of taking calisthenics!), and some extracurricular participation in the fencing club. The epee folks always struck me as a "wild and crazy" bunch! Of course, each group (foil, epee, saber) had its own set of insults for the other. [Wink]
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aupton15
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I'm right-handed, and the only member of my family who isn't (that I can recall anyway) is an ambidextrous cousin. I remember throwing a football with several family members at some gathering. When it was her turn she took the ball in one hand and then the other, reared back like she would throw and then changed hands. She couldn't decide which one was the "right" one to throw with. Eventually she tried both and stuck with the left. That's as close as we get to left-handed in my family.
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musket
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Fencing doesn't bear much resemblence to fighting with live steel. The epee is the equivalent of a rapier. Duels with the rapier seldom resulted in immediate fatalities, regardless of the movie version-- most people who lost such duels and died as a result succumbed later to sepsis, not because they were run through.

I had limited physical talent, but through relentless practice became quite good at parry-riposte. A large part of my game consisted of suckering opponents into ill-considered attacks. It served me well, up until the time I started facing opponents who were just as good at psyche-out games as I was, if not better, and who had much faster reflexes and all around athletic ability.

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