Sunday, March 31, 2013

Are you Left-handed or know someone who is? Some Facts which may surprise you . . .

In my recently released novel, Cailín , the main character of the story, Aislinn MacAuliffe, not only has red hair, but is left-handed, as well— just one more thing alluding to the likelihood of her supernatural origins. 

Like my character, I too, was born left-handed.  Although, I was one of the percentage of those subjected to the ‘rehabilitation’ which used to be so prevalent, having been forced to use my right hand in school at the command of my parents— good God-fearing people that they are.  However, while I do use my right hand to write, that didn’t prevent the natural inclination of using my left-hand for everything else— including eating, drinking, carrying things, other  manual tasks, holding the phone, and even anything I do which requires larger body movements, I tend to lead with the left side of my body.
It wasn’t until I was an adult— and had a left-handed child of my own— that I researched more about my left-handed quirk.   Interestingly enough, twins run sporadically in my family (if you are not familiar with this theory, you will read more about it below), as not only do I have the capability of producing twins (binary ovulation) and I discovered a couple sets of twins in my family tree, but I also have a daughter who does have twin baby girls.  That makes the thought that either I or my son could have possibly originally been a twin conception something quite mystifying to consider.

So, here are some facts about left-handedness I gathered to share with you.  I hope you enjoy them, find them fascinating, or at the very least, learn something which you were not aware of previously, particularly if you are one yourself or are close to someone that is.  Understanding is always a good thing!


·        Only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed, with males twice as likely.
·        About 30 million people in the United States are left-handed.
·        About 20 percent of people with schizophrenia dominantly use their left hands.
·        Less than 1% of the world’s population can be considered truly ambidextrous.
·        Increased risk for dyslexia, ADHD, and certain mood disorders in left-handed people.
·        Statistically, the older the mother, the more likely she is to birth a left-handed child.
·        There is a high tendency in twins for one to be left-handed.
·        Although approximately 90% of all humans are right-handed, dogs, cats, rats, and mice that show handedness seem to be equally split between right- and left-pawedness.
·        Researchers postulate that the proportion of left-handers has remained constant for over 30,000 years.
·        Research indicates that left-handers are more likely to become alcoholics, schizophrenic, delinquent, and dyslexic.  They are also more likely to have Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or mental disabilities.  Scholars note that despite these maladies, left-handers have survived because they are traditionally successful in combat.  Here’s why: In man-on-man combat, using the left-hand is like throwing a curveball.  "The fact that left-handers are less common means they have a surprise effect," University of Montpellier researcher Charlotte Faurie told ABC News. To dig deeper, Faurie and her colleague Michel Raymond studied nine different primitive societies.  In more violent societies, they found that lefties thrived (think southpaw slugger Rocky Balboa’s left hook).

Brain Functioning

·        The gene LRRTM1 is a strong contributing factor for left-handedness.  Scientists discovered the gene during a study of dyslexic children and believe it is inherited from the father. 
·        The left hemisphere (right handed control) controls speech, language, writing, logic, mathematics and science. This is the linear sequential mode.
·        The right hemisphere (left handed control) controls music, art, creativity, perception, spatial awareness, emotions and other forms of abstract thinking. This is the visual simultaneous mode.
·        Connections between the right and left sides of the brain are faster in left-handed people.  This means information is transferred faster, making left-handers more efficient in dealing with multiple stimuli and using both sides of the brain more easily.
·        Left-handers are more able to multitask.  One of the advantages of being left-handed is that it forces your brain to act more quickly.  What this means for everyday life is that those who are left-handed may find it easier to manage large, more random streams of information.  Researchers found that connections between the left and right sides of the brain happen faster in left-handed people.  The more dominant the left-handedness is, the better these abilities appear to be.
·        Lefties have typically higher IQ’s, seeming to make up a disproportionately large part of those who are highly intelligent.  20% of MENSA members are reportedly left-handed.  Some think this genius stems from being forced to use both sides of the brain more often, allowing left-handers to more easily process a large amount of information.  Some notable leftie clever clogs include Issac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, as well as 4 out of the 5 original Mac designers.
·        Left-Handers Remember Events Better Than Facts.  They concluded that the two halves of the brain work together in episodic memory to help to remember.  They also point out that the onset of episodic memory at around four years of age roughly coincides with the maturation of the “corpus callosum” that connects the two halves of the brain.  More research is being conducted to ascertain why episodic memory involves both halves of the brain whereas implicit memory appears to only be processed in one half.
·        Lefties Hear Speeches Differently:  People who are using their left hands when listening may more easily hear rapidly changing sounds than those who are using their right hands, according to a study from Georgetown University Medical Center.
·        Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater.  Again, Scientists believe this has something to do with the different part of the brain being more dominant in left-handers.

Learning & Creativity

·        Most people rely on the brain’s left hemisphere for tasks like language functioning.  However, about 30% of left-handers are either partial to the right hemisphere or have no dominant hemisphere at all.  According to scientists, having one hemisphere dominate is much more efficient— and that’s why some left-handers are at an increased risk for learning impairments and brain disorders.
·        Studies show that those who have autism are more likely to be left-handed.
·        Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers (particularly if they are forced to change their writing hand as a child, like King of England George VI).
·        Left-handers have the upper hand in at least one creative facet — they’re better at divergent thinking, a method of idea generation that explores many possible solutions.
·        Lefties Make Better Artists:  Southpaws have been bragging about their creative clout for years. But is it true -- does being left-handed mean you’re also more likely to be artistic or innovative? According to research published in the American Journal of Psychology, there is some evidence that left-handed people have the upper hand in at least one creative facet -- they’re better at divergent thinking, a method of idea generation that explores many possible solutions.  So to determine whether lefties were more likely to pursue creative careers than righties, the folks behind Left-Handers’ Club (a pro-leftie group dedicated to left-handed research and product development) surveyed more than 2,000 left-handed, right-handed and ambidextrous participants. What did they find? Lefties tended to find advantages and be drawn to careers in the arts, music, sports and information technology fields.  But that may also add up to lower paychecks: According to the same Wall Street Journal article, left-handers’ salaries are 10 percent lower on average than right-handers.
·        Many people who are left-handed draw figures that face to the right.
·        Studies have suggested that left-handers are more talented in spatial awareness, math, and architecture.  Right-handers tend to be more talented verbally.
·        When placed on their tummies, right-handed babies tend to turn their heads to the right.  Left-handed babies usually turn their heads to the left or they don’t show any preference.
·        Studies have shown that if a left-hander injures his dominant hand, he has an easier time learning to use the other hand than his right-handed counterparts.


·        Left-handers have lower rates of arthritis and ulcers.
·        Research suggests that left-handers are slightly more prone to allergies and asthma than right-handers are.
·        Studies suggest premature babies are more likely to be left-handed.  Additionally, infants with low Apgar scores at birth are more likely to be left-handed than children who have higher Apgar scores.
·        Babies can show early signs of handedness
·        Ultrasounds show that in the womb, 90% of babies appear to favor the right thumb, which corresponds to population breakdowns of right-handers and left-handers.
·        Research has shown a link between trauma during gestation or during birth with an increased chance of being left-handed.
·        Some scholars postulate that increased levels of testosterone in the womb increase the chances of becoming left-handed.  This may explain the correlation that seems to exist between left-handedness and some immune disorders, as testosterone has been linked to immune disorders.
·        Mothers who are over 40 at the time of a child’s birth are 128% more likely to have a left-handed baby than a woman in her 20s.  Coincidentally the chances of an older mother conceiving twins are also higher.
·        Some scientists have suggested that left-handers were originally in the womb with a twin that did not survive, or a “Vanishing Twin.” For a while scientists had a theory that left-handed people started out as twins while in utero. Their belief was that in a set of twins one is usually right-handed and the other left-handed. 
·        It was not until ultrasounds, and cameras capable of capturing life inside the womb, that scientists discovered their hunch was right. They were right in the fact that most lefties were once twins but it turns out, that's not all.  Scientists now think that an astonishing 1 in 8 people started out as twins.  Of course, as statistics show, only about 1 in 70 people actually is a twin.  So what happens to the other twin?  Depending upon how early it occurs, the twin which do not make it pretty much just wither away or sometimes, it will even become part of the surviving twin.  If multiple pregnancies are truly this common, it is for good reason.  Unfortunately, carrying twins can be very dangerous for the mother, so very few actually make it to full term.  Instead, it is just another case of 'survival of the fittest', whereas the fetuses compete for viability early on in development.  

Just another reason for people to believe lefties are a sinister group of people.


·        Left handers tend to be more affected by fear.  Studies have shown that Lefties were far more likely to show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder than righties.  Apparently the two sides of the brain have different roles in PTSD, the right hand-side of the brain seems to be more involved in fear.  In a recent experiment, left-handers who watched an eight-minute clip from the film Silence of the Lambs showed more fear than right-handers.  I, for one, cannot handle even the mildest of scary movies, and rather than just affecting me for the short time surrounding the watching of them, their deeply disturbing effects tend to linger with me for months even.
·        According to a small study published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, lefties are more prone to having negative emotions.  In addition, they seem to have a more difficult time processing their feelings.  Again, this seems to be related to the brain-hand connection. Compared to righties, left-handed participants in the study showed an imbalance in activity between the left and right hemispheres when trying to process their moodiness.  Therefore, Left-Handers get angrier easier and hold onto it.  
·        Researchers have come to the conclusion that lefties tend to feel more inhibited, shy and embarrassed than their right-handed counterparts.  "Left-handers are more likely to hesitate whereas right-handers tend to jump in a bit more," lead researcher Lynn Wright, PhD, told BBC News.  When scientists from Abertay University in Scotland gave 46 lefties and 66 righties behavioral tests to measure their impulsiveness and personal restraint, the left-handers in the group more commonly agreed with statements like “I worry about making mistakes” and “Criticism or scolding hurts me quite a bit.”
·        Left-handers are 39% more likely to be homosexual.
·        Drink More: excess drinking may be a consequence either of atypical lateralisation of the brain or due to the social stresses that arise from left-handers being a minority group.
·        Left-handers like to color-code things, like to write lists, as a way to alleviate stress.  I can certainly attest to this!  My husband likes to make fun of me for those things!


·        Left-handers excel particularly in tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing.
·        More likely to have allergies.
·        More prone to migraines.
·        More likely to be insomniacs.
·        Live on average 9 years less than right handed people.
·        Less able to roll their tongue than a righty.
·        Nails grow faster on the left hand than the right.

Cultural Perceptions on Left-Handedness

·        In Tantric Buddhism, the left hand represents wisdom.
·        Christians believe that when judgment day arrives according to custom God blesses the saved with his right hand and casts out all the sinners out of Heaven with his left hand.
·        The Incas thought left-handers were capable of healing and that they possessed magical abilities. The North American Zuni tribe believed left-handedness signified good luck.
·        In the Talmud, the Chief of Satans or Prince of Demons is named Samael, which is associated with the Hebrew word for left side, se’mol.  The angel Michael sits on God’s right-hand side, while Samael is on his left-hand side.  This attribution of evil to the left and good to the right appears in various forms throughout the world.
·        Among the Eskimos, every left-handed person is viewed as a potential sorcerer.
·        In Morocco, left-handers are considered to be a s’ga, a word that means either a devil or a cursed person.


·        Left-handed women tend to be more masculine and quite yang women, have been shown to have higher testosterone levels, and are more sexually active.
·        Researchers note that on average, left-handers reach sexual maturity later than right-handers.


At various times in history, left-handedness has been seen as many things: a nasty habit, a mark of the devil, a sign of neurosis, rebellion, criminality, and homosexuality.  On the other hand, (no pun intended!) it has been seen as a trait indicating creativity and musical abilities.
·        The word left in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, which means weak or broken. The Oxford English Dictionary defines left-handed as meaning crippled, defective, awkward, clumsy, inapt, characterized by underhanded dealings, ambiguous, doubtful, questionable, ill-omened, inauspicious, and illegitimate.
·        The German for “left-handed’ is linkisch, which means awkward, clumsy, and maladroit.  In Italian, the word is mancino, which is derived from “crooked” or “maimed” (mancus) and is also used to mean deceitful or dishonest.  In Russian, to be called a left-hander (levja) is a term of insult.
·        In Latin, the word for left is ‘sinistra’, which is where the word sinister derives.
·        Phrases in English suggest a negative view of left-handedness.  For example, a “left-handed complement” is actually an insult.  A “left-handed marriage” is not a marriage but an adulterous sexual liaison, as in a “left-handed honeymoon with someone else’s husband.”  A “left-handed wife” is actually a mistress.
·        The next time you see a coat of arms check to see if it has a strip running diagonally across it. Most strips are called bends and they run from the top left to the bottom right.  A strip or bend that runs in the opposite direction is a left-handed bend or a sinister bend.
·        Some scholars note that left-handers may be one of the last unorganized minorities in society because they have no collective power and no real sense of common identity.  Additionally, left-handers are often discriminated against by social, educational, and religious institutions.  Social customs and even language set the left-hander apart as “different” and even “bad.”
·        August 13th is the official “Left-Hander’s Day.”  Launched in 1992, this yearly event celebrates left-handedness and raises awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience every day in a world designed for right-handers.
·        Even the word “dexterity” shows a right-handed bias.  The term dexter  (Latin) means “right” and refers to being “right-handed” on both sides.
·        The Devil is typically portrayed as being left-handed as shown by the many artistic representations.
·        In witchcraft texts in medieval Europe, it was the left hand that was used to harm or curse another person.  To affect a curse, witches were instructed to silently touch the recipient with the left hand, which would convey the curse.  Additionally, the devil supposedly gives the gathering a benediction with the left hand, as opposed to the right-handed blessing of the Christian church.  He would also baptize or anoint with his left hand.
·        Both the Jewish and Christian traditions are strongly right-handed in their nature and practices. For Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and other denominations, the priest must present the communion wafer with the right hand, and the communicant accepts it with the right hand.  All benedictions must be made with the right hand, and a priest symbolizes the “strong right hand of God.”
·        Medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides (A.D. 1135-1204) listed 100 blemishes a Jewish priest could not have, and being left-handed was one of them.
·        In Scotland there is a saying used to describe an unlucky person: “He must have been baptized by a left-handed priest.”
·        The right hand is mentioned positively 100 times in the Bible, while the left hand is mentioned only 25 times— all negatively.
·        In many Islamic countries, people are forbidden to eat with their left hand, which is considered “unclean” because it is used for cleaning the body after defecation.  Additionally, “public display” or use of the left hand is against the law in some Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia.
·        Left-handedness has also been called mancinism, sinistromanuality, and cackhandedness.  Other colloquialisms for left-handedness include skivvy-handed, scrummy-handed, kaggy-fisted, cawk-fisted, gibble-fisted, southpaw, cunny-and ballock-handed.
·        According to tradition, an itchy left hand indicates you will lose money, whereas an itchy right hand indicates you will receive money.
·        Left-handedness runs in families.  Lefties in the British royal family include the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William.
·        One in four Apollo astronauts were left-handers.
·        The left side, which is historically seen as weaker and “bad,” is also traditionally considered to be the female side.  However, current scientific data suggests that men are more likely to be left-handed than women.
·        There are two divergent theories regarding wearing the wedding ring on the left hand.  One theory is that it started with the ancient Egyptians, who believed that despite the left hand’s supposed flaws, placing the ring on this hand brought it nearer to the heart.  Another theory attributes the origin to the Greeks and Romans, who wore the rings to ward off evil associated with the left hand.

Famous Left-Handers

    Celebrities:  Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Sylvester Stallone, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Jay Leno, David Letterman,  Dan Ackroyd, Tim Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Charlie Chaplin, Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Richard Simmons


    Artists:  Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo,   Raphael (All Great  Artists of the Renaissance)


Scientists/Geniuses:  Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Isaac       Newton, Charles Darwin
        Inventors:  Benjamin Franklin    

    Musicians:  Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan

         Composers:  Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Paganini, Rachmaninoff, Ravel

            Sports Figures:  Martina Navratilova, Babe Ruth, Yogi Berra. Larry Bird, O.J. Simpson, Dorothy Hamill, John McEnroe   


          Political Leaders:  Fidel Castro, Oliver North, Colin Powell, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne Horatio Nelson, Ramses II, King of England George VI (movie,The King’s Speech)

        US Presidents:  Herbert Hoover, James A. Garfield, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman, Henry Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and Barack Obama 

Inspirational Greats: Helen Keller, Gandhi
         Business Greats:  Bill Gates, John D Rockefeller

          Authors:  Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, Goethe, Hans Christian Anderson

          Philosophers:  Aristotle, Nietzsche, Albert Schweitzer

Resources Used:
Huffington Post
Random History & Facts
The Week
Uber Facts

© 2013 Rosalind Scarlett

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