The Sideshow

August 13 is International Left-Handers Day

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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A piece of artwork offered for Left-Handers Day (lefthandersday.com)

Today is International Left-Handers Day, in which the world's lefties are encouraged to celebrate their minority status.

An estimated 10 percent of the world's population is left-handed. And even with two of the last three U.S. presidents falling into that distinct minority, left-handed people have historically been subjected to discrimination and urban legends.

Many of the untruths about left-handed people have been debunked, but the fact remains that they are still statistically more likely to suffer from a number of health problems, including alcoholism, Crohn's disease and schizophrenia.

But as the New York Times noted in 2011, scientists are still unable to determine why some people are born left-handed while most individuals are not.

In 2005, researchers in France postulated a theory that left-handed people thrived in primitive cultures because of the surprise factor working in their favor of relying on their left-hand when engaging in combat. And while that distinction may not have the same practical applications in modern society, the percentages of left-handed offspring are now essentially encoded in our genetic blueprints, being passed down through the generations.

Along with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, a number of our nation's present and past political leaders are left-handed, including Benjamin Franklin. The 2008 presidential election presented a distinctive moment in history for America, in that no matter who won, John McCain or Barack Obama, the nation would have a left-handed man in the Oval Office.

The southpaw status has also extended to the world of sports, arguably serving to benefit a number of boxers and also tennis legend John McEnroe. Several famous musicians are also left-handed, including Jimi Hendrix and the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The list of famous left-handed artists is extensive, providing credence to the theory that left-handed individuals are inherently more creative.

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