Re: New TECHWR-L Poll Question - Left or Right?

Subject: Re: New TECHWR-L Poll Question - Left or Right?
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 06:29:14 -0500

Lisa M. Bronson wrote:

This week's poll, which was suggested by TECHWR-L list member Chris
Christner, may finally be a perfect poll--one where *no one* will need to
use the Other/None of the above category (though, the category is there in
case I'm wrong). *grin*

Chris says that at a former position, he noticed that 12 of the 15 tech
writers were either left-handed or ambidextrous. Of three where I work,
only one is right-handed. So, here is this week's poll question:

Are more tech writers left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous? How do
you do your work?

For many years I wondered why there were so many southpaws in my high school AP math and science classes (interestingly, there were few in the AP English class). I've read various speculations from scientists over the years who wondered about the same phenomenon.

Some months ago (perhaps a year or more, now that I think about it) I heard on NPR about some research on a gene underlying left-handedness. I can't find it with Google at the moment, but the gist of the report was that the researcher had isolated a specific gene governing brain symmetry. The dominant form of the gene results in a smaller right hemisphere, and so 75% of the population is inherently right-handed. The recessive form of the gene results in a symmetric brain (in terms of the weights of the two hemispheres); and of the 25% with two copies of the recessive form (straight Mendelian inheritance of a single gene), roughly half are left-handed and half are right-handed, with some deducted from both groups to account for the ambidextrous. This would result in a bit less than 12.5% left-handedness in the population, but there is probably still enough cultural pressure to reduce that to the observed 8 to 10%.

Now where this gets interesting is that a symmetric, rather than the normal lopsided, brain confers both advantages and disadvantages. And within this group, the lefties and the righties have a great deal in common. So, generally speaking, when you select people based on certain characteristics (ability to visualize, creative problem-solving, etc., in other words, the kinds of things that will get kids into AP math classes), you find a relatively more even split between lefties and righties than in the general population. I suspect the same is true of the tech writing community and that the results of the poll will show (guessing here) 35 to 45% combined lefties and ambis.

Lisa B.
~writes with her right, mouses with her left~

~writes with his left, mouses with his right~



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