There is a small town called Left Hand in West Virginia, USA, just down the road from towns with names like Mudfork, Shock, Romance and Looneyville. The town is probably named after the left bank of the local river.
There is a brewery in Longmont, Colorado, USA, called the Left Hand Brewing Company, named in honour of Chief Niwot, whose tribe wintered in the local area (the southern Arapahoe word “niwot” means left-handed). Among their brews are Sawtooth Ale, Milk Stout Nitro, 400 Pound Monkey, Good Juju Ale and Wake Up Dead Stout.
The Leftorium is a store in Springfield Mall run by Ned Flanders, the most politicized of the left-handed characters in Matt Groening’s popular animated show, The Simpsons. About a third of the inhabitants of Springfield are left-handed (as is Matt Groening himself), including Bart and Maggie Simpson, Moe the Bartender, Mr. Skinner and Mr. Burns.
There used to be a magazine, now defunct, for and about left-handed people called, appropriately enough, Lefthander Magazine, which was published bi-monthly by the left-handedness advocacy organization Lefthanders International. The magazine opened backwards, and the pages, columns and bindings ran from right-to-left.
Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, offers a $1,000 scholarship for any left-handers attending courses at the college. It is known as the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship, and is offered to left-handers who also exhibit a good academic record and promising future prospects.
Polo (a game played on horseback with a wooden ball and a long-handled wooden mallet) is the only sport where left-handed play is expressly forbidden, and this is essentially for personal safety reasons.
Research has shown that, in general, in a straight uninfluenced choice, people tend to prefer things (e.g. objects, pictures, people, etc) they encounter on the same side as their dominant hand. Thus, a left-hander, asked to choose between two objects, tends to pick the left-hand one.
It has also been shown that our memories give low priority to information about left-right orientation, as compared to up-down and front-back, the assumption being that the difference between left and right is unlikely to be of life-threatening significance.
In his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks describes a woman in whom a massive stroke completely destroyed her ability to see, or even to conceive of, the left-hand side of anything. For example, she would put lipstick only on the right side of her mouth, totally unaware that a left side even existed. She would only eat the right-hand side of a plate of food, and was only able to eat more than half a plate-full by rotating herself completely to the right (she was physically unable to turn left) until more food came into view, which she would then eat the right-hand half of, etc.
All animals and many people have difficulty distinguishing left from right, a difficulty not encountered with the other dichotomies of up-down and front-back. This may be because the difference between left and right, unlike up-down and front-back, plays almost no role in the natural world, and almost all natural organisms are generally horizontally symmetrical.
One study showed that 19% of Michigan State University professors have at least occasional difficulty in identifying their left from their right (including 2% who have difficulty “all the time”, and 6% who have difficulty “frequently”). Similar results have been found among doctors, university graduates and Mensa members. In particular, women and left-handers report more confusion than men and right-handers.