Origin of right = good / left = bad?

I did a recent post on whether the idea of left = bad / right = good exists in different cultures, and I got a lot of responses that it exists at least in European, Asian, and Middle Eastern history/tradition. What is the origin of this? Is it possible to know?

It could be because most of us are right handed, so it’s kind of instinctual.

Sort of a lazy tendency to equate the majority with good, the rest with bad. The larger the majority, the greater the tendency–there are fewer advocates for the opposing side.

I learned about one aspect of this when I was helping a left-handed person to use scissors. I didn’t realize that most scissors are right-handed, and that left-handed persons will have difficulty using them–I guess I assumed they were handed-neutral. The difficulty is because of the scissors, not themselves, but someone who is ignorant of that would make the mistake of assuming they are less capable.

I’d venture to guess it comes from early warfare.

A right-handed person might tend to hit his opponent’s left side more often (with his fist, a stick, or a sword) if they’re facing one another in combat. With a sword or a stick, most warriors (being right-handed) would protect their right sides more effectively (and maybe be scarred more on the left?).

A rogue lefty holding his shield in the wrong hand, in the middle of a phalanx or shield wall, might create a weak point in the defense.

Perhaps that’s why the Latin word sinister includes as its definitions inauspicious, unlucky, presaging of evil, and on the left.

Wow–didn’t you have the “green handled” scissors when you were in elementary school? We all knew that regular scissors were for Righties, green-handled scissors were for Lefties.

Yeah but in a one on one fight a lefty would definitely have an advantage in most forms of combat if everything else was similar between the two combatants. In a sword fight a left handed swordsman is going to present a challenge that is not as common for the righty to face. While at the same time the lefty has probably been fighting righties forever, since most people are right handed.

A southpaw has advantage in a boxing match because again, right-handed fighters are much more experienced with fighting other righties, and the lefties have always fought and sparred against righties.

What’s your point? “Left-handed” would still qualify for the phrase “unlucky,” as in “unlucky for the guy who fights him.”

It just seemed you were saying lefties would be a disadvantage to their side versus a right handed person. Studies have actually shown that in more military societies left-handedness exists at a much greater proportion than it does in a less-militant society.

I meant only that a right-handed swordsman would protect his right side more effectively than he would protect his left side, not that he would protect his right side better than a left-handed person could.

If you protect yourself poorly on the left, you might have more scars there; and since your left side is a preferred target by right-handed opponents, you’d be attacked more often on that side. More attacks on the left + less defense on the left = left is considered unlucky by the majority of warriors, perhaps.

Also, “left-handed” could also mean “evil” as in “that guy who keeps kicking our ass because he handles a sword funny.”

And there’s always Ringo Starr. :smiley:

There really is no reason to bump this thread, other than noting that… for some reason… it got cited for a paper delivered at the 2012 International Communications Conference:

Which Way Did He Go? Directionality of Film Character and Camera Movement and Subsequent Spectator Interpretation. Page 18.

Huh, yeah, there it is.

Maybe one of the authors is a Doper?

I have no idea, but if so, my guess would be that one of the posters in this thread is a likely candidate for being responsible for the inclusion of the cite.

Googling further, I’m finding citations to the SDMB in a number of scholarly (for varying amounts of “scholarly”) sources, including named citations for Sam Stone, CK Dexter Haven, and Gronk in the book Performance in a Militarized Culture. Also, citations to SDMB threads can be found at the US Army (PDF, pg51), someone who cited our research into the nutritional value of rats (Page 98), our discussion of Waldorf Schools, a treatise on the racism of Kant, and more, I’m sure.

LOL, some school used a thread to help explain away that them fucking up diplomas is a thing that, yes, does happen.