I am left handed, my mother was left handed, and her mother was left handed; beyond that I am unsure. Lefties have always been not only passively discriminated against but also actively. My grandmother was forced to only use her right hand in school and ever after did so when she wrote. A friend of mine had his hand slapped repeatedly with a ruler by nuns in the Catholic school he attended because he persisted in using his left hand.
In English the etymology of left is ‘lyft’ which means worthless. The word sinister came from the Latin for left. Witches always proceed widdershins or counterclockwise (left) in their practices. Some say that part of this bias may proceed from the fact that the sun in the northern hemisphere rises and proceeds to one’s right in it’s course across the sky. In primitive societies to go against the sun would not be wise. Other terms like “gauche,” and “droit” reveal the bias against the left. One could go on and on in this vein, for example our guardian angels stand to our right and the devil to the left.
And then there are the medical claims about left handers (90% of women and 86% of men are right handed) that have been made: they don’t live as long; it’s the result of brain damage; the immune system of lefties is lower; disorders such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, learning disabilities, mental retardation, Alzheimers, and bed wetting. Much of this was claimed by Geschwind, Behan, and Galaburta (GBG Theory) in the eighties and much of since then has been discounted or modified.
Since the left hander tends to be right brained dominant, it would follow that lefties might show a predominance in fields utilizing the superior visual-spatial abilities of this side of the brain which would include math, music, architecture, etc. Other studies claimed links to homosexuality, which could never be conclusively demonstrated. Another study suggested that lefties had an advantage in hand to hand combat which would be selected for in more primitive times. They point to the prevalence of left handers in some sports. In my fencing class I was able to consistently beat the rest of the class possibly in part of my left handed fencing style!
Evidence has also accumulated refuting the early deaths of lefties…in fact much of the claims listed above have either been shown to be disproven or doubtful. Obviously further studies are needed to conclusively prove any of these claims.
One of my favorite quotes is as follows by Rudolf Steiner:
In general, you will find that those children who have spiritual tendencies can write with either the left or right hand without trouble, but those children with materialistic tendencies will become addled if they are allowed to write with both hands.