ARGH. Lifehacker is publishing articles on how to use hand gestures to read someone's inner soul or some other kind of garbage like that. I really want them to stop doing this, because they're always goddamn wrong. A description of hand gestures, removed from their behavioral, cultural, and situation context means absolutely fucking nothing.

The only thing that you can reliably get from hand gestures without knowing anything about the person, where they're from, or the situation they're in, is indicators of which is their dominant hand. Really. That is it. And you still have to know what you're doing for that.

The most useful way to winnow handedness out is to use right-handed-ness as your null hypothesis and watch for what's wrong on that basis. Wrist watches are a good start but provide both false negatives and false positives, as I've known people of both sorts who wear their watch against custom on their dominant hand, Moggie (right-handed) actually being one of them.

For people who went through grade school post-1960s or so, writing is a good indicator, but before that a lot of places still insisted that you write with your right hand rather than your dominant one, so it fails for historical people like Charlie Chaplin, who wrote and used scissors right-handed but did everything else left.

Cell phones are not as reliable as one might think. I'm right-handed but thumbsmash with my left. People with iPhones and Blackberries often thumbsmash with both hands at once. What pocket the phone is in may have more to do with where it will incur less damage than what hand they use to fish it out with.

Keys are not really much help. The pocket car keys go into mostly has to do with what side the ignition is on in the car they fit, usually right in the US. House keys are mostly attached to car keys. Front doors generally swing into the house (so people can't break in by removing the hinges, FYI, which are on the side the door swings towards) but whether the deadbolt is left or right is a crapshoot.

Tea and coffee cups are often a good tell. The cardboard things from Starbucks go either way, but proper mugs, which contain scalding liquid and have to be manipulated by a slender handle, get picked up with the stronger hand, on the basis that nobody (well, very few people) want a lap full of hot Darjeeling.

Lefties are also prone to adapting by becoming annoyingly ambidextrous, which further complicates things, but with enough observation you can usually figure it out. Martin Freeman has his watch on the left and carries messenger bags on his right hip, but writes, flips pages, and does things like flick-scroll his phone screen and open his laptop with his left. He also knots his ties left when he can be bothered to wear one, which mostly he can't.

People who do not know what they are talking about really should not write articles on this for other people who don't know what they're talking about. It just makes everyone's life unnecessarily difficult. Grf.


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