Just Explain It: The Truth About Left-handed People

About 90 percent of people in the world today are right-handed.  That makes life for the other ten percent who are left-handed a little more complicated, including, by the way, the President of the United States.

Every day, left-handed folks quietly face obstacles most right-handed people will never know.  It could be something as simple as driving a car, or using a can opener or a pair of scissors.

In this Just Explain It, we’ll look at the truths and expel myths about left-handed people.
          
First, did you know that five out of the last seven United States presidents were left-hand dominant? In 1992, all three major presidential candidates were left-handed. Four years later in 1996, the top three candidates for president were again lefties. Of the three, Senator Bob Dole was the only one who was originally right-handed.  He learned to use his left hand after a World War II injury paralyzed his right hand. Then in 2008, long-time Senator John McCain campaigned against then Senator Barack Obama for the White House.  And if you haven't guessed it already…they're both left-handed.  

Why are so few of us left-handed?   The reality is, we really don’t know.  One theory is that handedness could be a result of genetics.

Scientists say there are two genes associated with handedness.  One is the D gene - it promotes right-hand preference.  The other is the C gene…it has the ability to promote a preference for either hand.  The D gene, however, is more frequent in the population.  But when the C gene is present there’s a 50 percent chance that a person could be right or left-handed.

Another theory on handedness has to do with our brains. They’re made up of two halves.  If the left half of your brain is dominant, then you’re most likely right-handed.  But with lefties, it’s more complex.  Seventy percent of left-handers are also left-brain dominant. The other 30 percent of lefties have right-side dominant brains or the dominance is evenly distributed between both sides.

However, if you’re born with a preference towards your left hand…you can be trained to use your right. But why would anyone actually do that?

Maybe because people believe in myths like, right-handed people live longer healthier lives.  Or that it’s difficult for left-handed kids to learn how to write the alphabet. Or maybe they think lefties are clumsy.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, left-handedness was considered a disability and children were taught to use their right hands.  Even today the popular website Thesaurus.com describes left-handed as awkward or sinister.

But not all of the myths about left-handers are negative. One myth suggests they are more creative and smarter as a group than their right-handed peers.  So far scientific research has yet to find any truth to these claims.  In fact, a 2013 survey out of New Zealand found that personality wise; lefties and righties were the same. 

Life might be a little more complicated for left-handers when it comes to cutting a piece of paper or opening a bottle of wine, but it seems to be a good sign if you’re trying to make it to the White House.

Every year on August 13th, lefties around the world celebrate their hand preference.  It’s been happening since 1992 and raises the awareness of the difficulties left-handers face every day in life.

Do you think being right or left-handed leads to success in life? Let us know what you think. Give us your feedback in the comments below or on Twitter using #JustExplainItNews.

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