The Numbers Are In: 10.6% of people are left handed

Dr. Silvia Paracchini FRSE is a geneticist and lecturer at the School of Medicine, University of St. Andrews in Scotland.  In March 2018, she began a comprehensive study on handedness involving nearly 2.4 million participants.  The results were published this week.

She tested only Europeans.  European children are encouraged to use their natural hands, so doing a Euro-centric study actually removes a biasMost religions, countries and cultures in other parts of the world (Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America) still consider it acceptable to abuse left handed children (forced hand switching).

The article cited below does not say whether the effect of right handed bias of mass manufacturing was taken into account.  It would also be worth knowing the different rates amongst various groups.  Other studies have claimed XY people are more likely to be left handed than XX, and LGBTQIA people are more likely than cishetero binaries.

World’s biggest study of left-handedness

Thursday 2 April 2020

From Leonardo da Vinci to Oprah Winfrey, and from Napoleon Bonaparte to Jimi Hendrix the talents of left-handers have been celebrated across the generations.

However, the prevalence of people who favour their left hand over their right has always been a rough estimate – until now.

In the biggest ever global study of handedness researchers from across Europe, led by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and in the UK by the University of St Andrews, have concluded that 10.6% of the world’s population are left handed.

Details of the study of more than two million people by researchers at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, University of Oxford, University of Bristol, Ruhr University Bochum and St Andrews are published in Psychological Bulletin today (Thursday 2 April 2020).

Frequency of left-handedness has shaped and underpinned different fields of research, from cognitive neuroscience to human evolution. While hundreds of empirical studies have assessed handedness, there has never been a large-scale, comprehensive review of the prevalence of handedness and the factors which moderate it.

For the study researchers examined five meta-analyses involving 2,396,170 individuals on hand preference for different manual tasks. They showed that left-handedness prevalence lies between 9.34% using the most stringent criterion of left-handedness, to 18.1% using the most lenient criterion of non-right-handedness, with the best overall estimate being 10.6%.

Typically handedness is measured by which hand is used to write with. However, for this study researchers allowed for the fact that about 9% of people use different hands for different tasks which further improved the accuracy for their findings.

Understanding handedness contributes to our understanding of human evolution. For example, it has been claimed that right-handedness, along with the capacity to make and use tools, to use language, and to show functional and anatomical cerebral specialisation, are characteristics specific to humans, and that they are intimately tied together in the divergent evolution of man from apes.

The lead UK author of the study, Dr Silvia Paracchini, of the School of Medicine at St Andrews, said: “This study will provide a useful reference for different areas of handedness research. In addition to providing reliable figures, the study highlights variability across studies depending on the different criteria used to measure handedness. While we intuitively classify handedness as a left/right category, these data show that the proportion of people using different hands for different tasks is almost as big as the proportion of the left-handers.”

‘Human handedness: A meta-analysis’ is published in Psychological Bulletin.

Please use the paper’s DOI (10.1037/bul0000229) in all references and social media posts.

Now if only ignorant and bigoted attitudes will finally die.

I don’t care if your culture, society or religion says it’s “rude” to do or hand you something with my left hand, I’m still going to do it.  There’s nothing wrong with my hand, it’s your unfounded beliefs that are wrong.

Invertebrate Shown: Just watch this worm wriggle

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On Saturday evening, RTHK’s Yvonne Tong attempting to inteview Beijing’s puppet…I mean, “assistant director general” of the WHO, Bruce Aylward.

First watch him squirm and pretend he “didn’t hear the question”.  If he didn’t hear it, why didn’t he ask her to repeat it?  Then, he hangs up on her to avoid her second attempt to ask.  When she calls back, he lies “We’ve already talked about China….”

Pathetic doesn’t even begin to describe it.  “WHO”?  More like WORM: Worm Owned by Renminbi Money.  He is an embarrassment to all Canadians.


Another example of how Hong Kong’s government and “leader” Carrie Lim are puppets of Beijing.  The emphasis in the text is mine.

Hong Kong criticises broadcaster RTHK for asking WHO about Taiwan

Hong Kong’s government said public broadcaster RTHK breached its charter by asking the World Health Organisation (WHO) about Taiwan’s membership, a move democracy advocates criticised as a new government effort to muzzle the press.


An RTHK spokesperson said the station had reviewed the programme and found no violation of its charter. Taiwan was referred to as “a place” in the episode and no stance was taken, the spokesperson said.

Hong Kong enjoys freedom of the press and other rights guaranteed before the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, and democratically run Taiwan has been widely debated in the city’s media.

Excuses Excuses: The three false arguments sports teams use to keep racist nicknames

When I read Nathan’s post on the Atlanta Braves, I intended to write a 50-100 word reply, not 500-1000. Apologies for hijacking your topic, Sir.

There are three disingenuous arguments that pro sports owners use when refusing to change racist team nicknames and mascots:

1) Tradition

2) Rebranding

3) Legal conflicts

None have any validity. All are justifications of perpetuating racism for profit.

This is long and there are pics, so it continues below the fold….

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Good And Bad To Tell: Two short tidbits

The bad:

According to the Worldometers site, at 18:00 UTC time the number of infected people worldwide surpassed 1,000,000.  The death toll is over 51,000.

It is 100 days from December 25, 2019 (around the time COVID-19 was first reported) to April 2, 2020.  There were 1,000 cases on January 24; 100,000 on March 6; and 900,000 yesterday.

The good:

Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes has developed a test that detects COVID-19 in 15 minutes using SARS antibodies from 2003.  However, it will be some time before it can be distributed worldwide.

Time Wasted: Not making good use of a holiday

In news items about the urns in China, you may have noted mention of Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival 清明节). It and Children’s Day (in Taiwan) are two holidays celebrated on April 4th and April 5th.  The word for “four” in Chinese (and Korean and Japanese) sounds like the word for “death”, so 4/4 is their day of the dead.  Never give anything to an ethnic Chinese person that comes in a multiple of four; packaged products here come in 3s, 5s, and higher numbers, rarely 4s.

Normal Tomb Sweeping Day activities involve visiting shrines, cutting grass and cleaning family graves or visiting family elders.  Over on the mainland, they may not even be able to do that, unable to claim their deceased and give them a proper burial.  Mourning periods are not officially banned, but are well nigh impossible in the current situation.

The holidays fall on a weekend this year, which in the past would have meant no extra days off.  But starting in 2018, Taiwan enacted statutory holidays when they fall on the weekend, meaning schools and businesses are closed for Thursday and Friday (4/2 and 4/3).  Normally a four day weekend would be nice, but, with COVID-19 around, the number of infected in Taiwan over 300 and selfish cretins STILL breaking voluntary quarantine (one did it TWICE and was fined both times), most people I know are staying home.

This holiday was a missed opportunity. If the government had enacted a mandatory national quarantine from March 28 to April 12, it would have meant only eight lost work and school days (3/30-4/1, 4/6-4/10) and allowed the medical system to get ahead of things. And this isn’t just my view, one of the government’s own doctors working on it (I’ll add a link to the news item when I find it again) has recommended a national two week quarantine.  The acts of a selfish few could cause it to overrun the island.

Tomb Sweeping Day always makes me think of The Replacements:

“The ones who love us best

Are the ones we’ll lay to rest

And visit their graves on holidays, at best”

With Head Held High: March 31st is International Transgender Day of Visibility

It’s difficult to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility today, on a day when fascists in Idaho pass laws legalizing hate and discrimination, when news of another murdered Black Transgender Person appears, when bigots use current events to incite hatred and blame LGBTQIA people for COVID-19 (how, exactly?), when TERF trash continue to incite hate under the false pretense of “stopping predators”(Don’t flatter yourselves, TERFs.  Transgender heterosexual women will never be interested, and even Transgender women who are bi, pan or lesbian won’t either.  Not with your personalities.)

That said, as time passes and still there are no “predators in toilets”, no “rapes by traps”, no “denial of rights to the gender hypocritical”, the public see that Transgender people are no more a “problem” than cisgender gays or cisgender lesbians were.  They demonize and incite more violence because they know they can’t demonstrate and cite examples.

Being visible does not require people out themselves nor is it about forcing people to come out.  If you don’t feel safe about coming out, worried about losing your income, your home, family, friends, safety, etc., then don’t come out.

Visibility is about those who are willing to be seen, willing to pave the way for others to eventually be safe.  People like Caroline Cossey, Laverne Cox, Zinnia Jones and others paved the way for people like me to feel confident enough to come out.  I and others who benefitted from them are doing the same for more who still don’t feel safe: paving the way for you.  As more come out, you may eventually feel safe enough.  I know I didn’t until there were enough.

I have what I call the “one in a thousand” rule when it comes to marginalized people.

When you’re young and different than everyone else, after enough attacks, insults, harassment, and people claiming you’re “weird” or “wrong”, you start to wonder if they’re right.  If you don’t or can’t find support, the abuse may eventually wear you down and take your life.

But if you hear about others, learn that others like you exist, suddenly you realize you’re not the problem.  Suddenly you start to wonder just how many others there are.  Suddenly you start looking for them and they start appearing in far greater numbers than you ever expected.

When you think you’re one in a thousand, you feel like you’re nothing.  When you learn that you’re 7.7 million out of 7.7 billion not only are you not alone, but you are a collectively a force that is hard to silence, oppress and oppose.  If you feel isolated and alone, don’t assume you’re the only one.  Reach out and try to find others.  They’re there.

There’s really only one thing bothering me on this year’s International Transgender Day of Visibility: Cartoonist Sophie Labelle, author of “Assigned Male”, was going to visit Taipei around this time, but cancelled her world tour due to COVID-19.  I was looking forward to meeting her.


It Went Over Well: Quarantine-o-we’en is massively popular

I don’t believe in supernatural mumbo-jumbo one iota, but I love Hallowe’en.  I’m one of those 24/7/366 (this year) types who talks and lives Hallowe’en every day.  You wouldn’t believe how many Hallowe’en groups I’m in and the number of pages I follow.

Around March 20, one of the Hallowe’en lifers came up with the genius idea: create an event to alleviate boredom and let people have fun.  April 30th is Walpurgisnacht (aka Hexennacht, night of the witches).  That’s six months from Hallowe’en, but people desperately need a release right now.  I’ve seen people joking that they’ll be breaking out xmas decorations soon.

They called it Quarantine-o-we’en and set March 31st as the date.  People expected only Hallowe’en lifers to participate, but the regular public has joined in and now it’s taking on a life of it’s own, hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) joining in.  You stay home, but you decorate your house for Hallowe’en, wear costumes, and post pictures online.  A search of google, youtube, facebook (#quarantineoween) and many other sites turn up a plethora of results.

If you have nothing to do, join in!  There are pics of me below the fold.

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You Have To Laugh: Collected quarantine humour

None of these are mine, they’re others’ observations posted online and collected:


It’s like the exact opposite of that pokemon go summer.

Eighth day of isolation and it’s like Vegas in my house. We’re losing money by the minute, cocktails are acceptable at any hour, and nobody knows what time it is.

I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to change my netflix password so my ex can’t use it anymore. It really doesn’t get any better than a national lockdown.

Night 1 of no sports: My wife and I just had an hour long conversation. She’s really nice, and apparently she works in the medical field. Also, TVs are black when they are off.

Friend: How’s self isolation going?
Me: Pretty good, no human contact in a week.
Friend: Coronavirus is tough, right?
Me: Coronavirus?

Coronavirus: the biggest game of cooties I’ve ever seen in my life.

Someday our kids will have kids. Those kids will complain that they’re bored and have nowhere to go. So our kids will tell them about the time they couldn’t leave their house for a month because of a pandemic.

This is our kids’ “two mile walk uphill in a snowstorm” moment.

Day 4 of social distancing: Struck up a conversation with a spider. Seems nice. He’s a web designer.

Saw a neighbor scraping “My kid is a terrific student” off her car. I guess homeschooling isn’t going well.

It Depends: Does who’s talking make a difference?

Last week, I mentioned China Mobile’s drop in 7.25 million customers.  I never claimed that were how many died, thouugh I suspect some misread it as saying that.  Xi Limping (from one crisis to another) ordered migrant workers within the country to return home.  Many use a second phone when they are not in their home towns and probably got rid of their SIM cards.  But there was still the possiblity that some of those missing users were casualties of the infection.

When stories emerge, they often follow an order of appearance: word of mouth, blogs or fringe sites, less reputable media, (semi)credible mainstream media.  Rumours of higher death tolls out of Wuhan have circulated for weeks on blogs like Shanghaiist (a Gothamist blog), Radio Free Asia, or third-rate “news” like The Express UK.  But the corporate media can’t ignore pictures of thousands of burial urns.  Even media in China usually subject to censorship has stopped pretending it doesn’t exist.

Bloomberg: Stacks of Urns in Wuhan Prompt New Questions of Virus’s Toll

The long lines and stacks of ash urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan are spurring questions about the true scale of coronavirus casualties at the epicenter of the outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative.

The families of those who succumbed to the virus in the central Chinese city, where the disease first emerged in December, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight local funeral homes starting this week. As they did, photos circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in.

Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500 urns on both Wednesday and Thursday, according to Chinese media outlet Caixin. Another picture published by Caixin showed 3,500 urns stacked on the ground inside. It’s unclear how many of the urns had been filled.

People who answered the phone at six of the eight funeral homes in Wuhan said they either did not have data on how many urns were waiting to be collected, or were not authorized to disclose the numbers. Calls were not answered at the other two.

Some families said they had been forced to wait for several hours to pick up the ashes.

Newsweek: Wuhan COVID-19 Death Toll May Be in Tens of Thousands, Data on Cremations and Shipments of Urns Suggest

A stack of urns at a funeral home in Wuhan, the city’s official cremation rates, and reports of an overwhelmed health care system have prompted speculation that Wuhan’s real COVID-19 death toll could be in the tens of thousands—despite the Chinese government reporting 2,535 deaths from just over 50,000 coronavirus infections.

We may never know the real death toll from Wuhan (the seven mortuaries running day and night for weeks) but it’s clear the “official” numbers are as worthless as the “official” numbers from Tiananmen Square.  Anywhere from 10,000 to 150,000 dead wouldn’t stretch credulity.

How much worse things can get remains to be seen.

Guess Work: 3Blue1Brown also looks at pandemics

3Blue1Brown is another math channel on youtube.  This video goes much further than Numberphile in covering multiple variables (and different rates) and their effects on the spread of disease, and finishes with the combinations.  It really brings home the importance of isolation, quarantine and all the other things the medical community have been stressing.

Both 3Blue1Brown and Numberphile reached the same peak of infection (roughly 75-80%) in a scenario where no measures are taken and the virus spreads unchecked, so they’re likely working from the same formulae.

If You Need Something To Do: It’s Quarantineowe’en!

If you haven’t heard, March 31 is Quarantineowe’en, a time to dress up in Hallowe’en costumes and post your pictures on whichever site or social media you use. I plan to participate and will post them here and elsewhere.

I was originally planning a Walpurgisnacht party this year (e.g. renting a venue, alcohol, etc.) for April 30th, but nearly all clubs and events are closed locally.  They will open up again soon, but not for a week or two and most will want to go to their regular venues.  Oh well.

Happy Quarantineowe’en to you all!

You Have To Laugh: A coping mechanism for COVID-19

On my facebook page are three posts of collected memes and humour about COVID-19, seen in (read: stolen from) the pages of various groups and friends.  They are sorted as:

Part 1: Welcome to the new normal.

Part 2: Social distancing.

Part 3: Toilet paper and others.

Sometimes, you have to laugh or you’ll break down and cry.

There are 33 pics plus the one below which would be too much of a strain for FtB.  The privacy setting is “world” so anyone can view them, even those not logged in to facebook.  Enjoy.

As for this picture, I’m told the graffiti reads:

“We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.”

Two more, the first in response to Oceanoxia’s post on the people keeping society from breaking down:

And this one’s just too good not to add:

When It Happened Before: An NIH paper on historical epidemics

I ran across the paper quoted below about epidemics and pandemics of the past, published by the US’s National Institute of Health in 2013.  It makes for interesting reading.

The biggest difference between this pandemic and those before the late 20th century is politics.  Yes, the speed of travel makes the spread much faster, but the interaction between governments and what they can justify (read: get away with) has changed drastically.  Unprovoked war measures can no longer be justified against neighbors, not even by China.  It’s not 1945 anymore – during epidemics and pandemics from the 1968 flu until now, governments tread carefully.

During the Black Plague, groups and nations would isolate themselves, sometimes enacting “shoot to kill” policies to outsiders and creating quarantine zones (oft times islands) to place all the infected and keep them away from the rest of society.  In modern politics, countries can’t afford to take a “first strike” attitude towards approaching foreigners.  They can ban airplanes from landing, but they dare not shoot one down as they might have shot people walking and on horseback hundreds of years ago.  We’re not talking about zombies.

Lessons from the History of Quarantine, from Plague to Influenza A


In the new millennium, the centuries-old strategy of quarantine is becoming a powerful component of the public health response to emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. During the 2003 pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, the use of quarantine, border controls, contact tracing, and surveillance proved effective in containing the global threat in just over 3 months. For centuries, these practices have been the cornerstone of organized responses to infectious disease outbreaks. However, the use of quarantine and other measures for controlling epidemic diseases has always been controversial because such strategies raise political, ethical, and socioeconomic issues and require a careful balance between public interest and individual rights. In a globalized world that is becoming ever more vulnerable to communicable diseases, a historical perspective can help clarify the use and implications of a still-valid public health strategy.

There’s more quoted below the fold.

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