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A Left-Hander in the White House

By: , Posted on: May 17, 2016

President Obama writing with the left hand in the inverted position.
President Obama writing with the left hand in the inverted position.

When I started writing my book about left-handedness, my goal was to publish the book before President Obama completed his second term in office.  President Obama is a left-hander who writes in the inverted position where the writing hand is positioned above the line of print.  Although a few right-handers use the inverted writing posture, this position is much more common among left-handers. I thought it appropriate to publish a book about left-handedness while a left-hander occupied the White House.  I accomplished my goal and my book, Laterality: Exploring the Enigma of Left-Handedness, published in January, 2016.

Free Chapter Download: Left-Handers and the Right Mind

While doing research for my book, I came across a few media reports where President Obama talked about his left-handedness and attempts to switch his handedness to the right side when he was a young boy.  For this reason, I contacted the White House via email and asked for the opportunity to interview President Obama about his handedness and his experiences living as a left-hander.  I made contact with the White House twice and both times was sent a return email a few weeks later containing a polite refusal.  The second refusal came from the White House press office so my email had at least made it that far up the chain of White House staffers.

Penn State Behrend Professor Debunks Left-Handed Myths

Undaunted by these refusals, I decided once the book was published to send a signed copy to the White House directed to the attention of the President. I sent the following letter along with a print copy of the book:

Dear President Obama:

            Enclosed is a copy of my recently-published book. Left-handers as a group are very proud of the fact that a number of Presidents of the United States, including yourself, have been left-handed.  For this reason, I included mention of left-handed Presidents in my book.  Please see pages 62 and 105 and Figure 4.4 for discussions related to your left-handedness. If you have had any lingering questions about your own left-handedness or that of people you know, I hope this book provides some answers.

Based on my previous experience with communications to the White House, I did not expect a response.

On May 10, I walked into our departmental office and a staff assistant who sorts the mail told me I had an interesting letter…it was from the White House.  I looked in the mailbox and sure enough there was an envelope addressed to me with the return address White House Washington.  Inside was a thank-you card signed by the President and First Lady.

Thank-you card from the White House.
Thank-you card from the White House.

This may be a generic card and the signatures may be completed by a machine programmed to reproduce their signatures…who knows!  Nevertheless, it is a thrill to receive a communication from the White House acknowledging receipt of the book.  I plan to indulge in the belief that President Obama has or will page through my book and read at least those sections where he is mentioned.

Author Clare Porac with her thank-you card from the White House.
Author Clare Porac with her thank-you card from the White House.

An interesting chapter called “Left-Handers and the Right Mind” from the book Laterality: Exploring the Enigma of Left-Handedness, is available for your preview for a limited time below:

Download (PDF, 970KB)

It notes the instance that the author mentions about President Obama, the media, and his left-handedness. If you would like to read additional chapters and have access to ScienceDirect, you can access them here.  If you would prefer a print or e-book, you can order online via the Elsevier Store.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Clare_PoracClare Porac received her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Duquesne University and her MA and PhD degrees in psychology from the New School for Social Research, and is presently Professor of Psychology at Penn State Erie. She has authored or coauthored 63 research articles and has presented 66 conference papers on her human laterality research; she has an additional 55 publications and 50 conference papers on other topics. You can read her full biography here and access an interview and podcast with her called “Penn State Behrend Professor Debunks Left-Handed Myths” here. She also has a personal blog that you can access at sites.psu.edu/clarep.

laterality

You can read more about left-handedness and laterality by Clare on SciTech Connect below:

Mother’s age and left-handedness

Fetuses and newborns: What behaviors predict handedness?

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