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Right Hand, Left Hand

Author: Chris McManus Publisher: Phoenix Edition: 2. Auflage Year of publication: 2003 Prize: – ISBN: 0-75381-355-6 Language: English



List of Figures List of Tables Preface

Acknowledgements 1 Dr Watson´s problem 2 Death and the right hand 3 On the left bank 4 Kleiz, drept, luft, zeso, lijevi, prawy 5 The heart of the dragon 6 The toad, ugly and venomous 7 The dextrous and the gauche 8 The left brain, the right brain and the whole brain 9 Ehud, son of Gera 10 Three men went to mow 11 Keggie-hander 12 Vulgar errors 13 The handedness of Muppets 14 Man is all symmetrie 15 The world, the small, the great

Notes Picture and Text Credits Index


„A scientific detective story, a brilliant cross between Edgar Allan Poe and Gray´s Anatomy.“ (J.G. Ballard, New Statesman)

Why are most people right-handed? Why is the hearts on the left-hand side of the body? Why does European writing go from left to right, while Arabic scripts go from right to left? And why are all muppets left-handed?

In this fascinating story of aymmetry, Chris McManus uses sources as diverse as the engravings of Rembrandt, the history of medicine, and particle physics to explain the vast repertoire of „left-right“ symbolism that permeates our everyday life.

„An excellent mix of hard sciene and engaging games and tricks, and a treasury of anecdotes.“ (Margaret Drabble)

„Limpidly written, dryly witty and extraordinarily wide-reaching.“ (Robert Macfarlane, Spectator)


Winner of the WELCOME TRUST Prize!



„This wonderful book… The range of topics that it covers is far-reaching, and readers from a wide range of disciplines including physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience and psychology will all find some aspects of the book intriguing from their own perspective… he has done a marvelous job of summarizing and integrating a wide range of findings from various disciplines addressing questions on the nature go right and left. The presentation and clarity of the topics is palatable to both the scientific and lay communities, making this volume well worth reading“. (William D.Hopkins, Nature)

„A fascinating study an immensely readable exploration of the whole topic“. (Douglas Palmer, New Scientist)

„Chris McManus takes an intriguing look at the asymmetry of our bodies ans societies. Why are most people right-handed but have hearts on the left? Why are men´s testicles unbalanced? And why are most Muppets left-handed? Good questions and, in providing answers, McManus has produced a joyous, entertaining book…“. (Robin McKie, Observer Review)

„As psychology professor Chris McManus demonstrates his delightful new book Right Hand, left Hand, everything in existence is hand, one way or the other, from the left-handed proteins that make up our bodies, to mollusk shells, to testicles“. (Ben Macintyre, The Times)

„A fascinating investigation of asymmetry, destined to become a popular classic“. (Margaret Drabble, Aventis Science Book Prize Chair)

“ A veritable compendium of everything you might want to know about handedness“. (Brian Goodwin, THES)

„This deservedly prize-winning book“. (Jerome Burne, Financial Times)




Many people have helped at various points in the writing of this book, and my thanks go to them all. None is responsible for the inevitable errors that are still present, in particular the inevitably embarrassing left-right confusions and reversals, but all have helped reduce their number. My first thanks must go to the WELCOME TRUST, for awarding me the prize that stimulated the writing of the book, an in particular those who made that decision, including Sue Blackmore, Matt Ridley and the late lamented and left-handed Doulas Adams.

Information on the author

Chris McManus is Professor of Psychology and medical Education at University College London. he is the author of „Psychology in Medicine“ and is the co-editor of „The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine“. His writing has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, and he is a frequent board caster on television and radio. he is one of the world´s foremost experts on handedness and lateralisation and is a founding editor of the journal Laterality.