- Definition: People who are more skilled with, and/or prefer using left hand
- Statistics: Around 10-12% of the population
- Genetics: 26% chance if both parents are left-handed
- Gender: More males than females
- Celebration: International Left-Handers Day on 13 August
- Artistry: Left-handed people are more artistic in general
- Types: Left-handedness, mixed-handedness, ambidexterity
- Celebrities: Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates
- Consequences: “Lefties” often show different mental abilities
- Consequences: “Lefties” are also more prone to certain disabilities
- Cause: Left-Handedness Is Still Not Fully Explained
- Species: Humans Are the Only Species That Show a Distinct Bias towards One Hand
- History: The Proportion of Left-Handers Remains Fairly Constant through Time
- Linguistics: The Word “Left” Carries Many Negative Meanings
- Statistics: 30 Million Americans Are Left-Handed
- Sports: Left-Handed People Often Excel at Sports
- Presidents: 5 out of Last 7 US Presidents Were Left-Handed
- Life Expectancy: Left-Handed People Don’t Live Shorter Lives
- Intelligence: Left-Handed People Are No More Intelligent than Right-Handed People
- Celebrities: Many Famous People of the Past Were Left-Handed
- Left-Handedness Was a Shameful Thing through Most of History
- Left-Handed People Are One of the Last Unorganized Minorities
- Right Hand Is Mentioned 100 Times in the Bible, Left Hand Only 25
- Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William Are All Left-Handed
- Violent Societies Have More Left-Handed People
- Left-Handed People See Better Underwater
- Mothers over 40 Are More Likely to Have a Left-Handed Baby
- Left-Handed People Are Better at Video Games
- There Is a Town Named Left Hand in West Virginia
Left-Handedness Is Still Not Fully Explained
One of the most interesting left handed facts might be that we still don’t know for sure what causes left-handedness, although several popular theories exist. One group of theories links handedness to language, presuming that both were compartmentalized to a specific side of the body. Most people use their left part of the brain for utilizing their language abilities and are at the same time right-handed, and others use the right part of the brain and are left-handed.
Another popular group of theories focuses on genetics, but there is no single gene responsible for handedness. Instead, there are many genes that affect handedness; recent research shows that these genes might be the same genes which determine body asymmetry.
Humans Are the Only Species That Show a Distinct Bias towards One Hand
With approximately 10% being left-handed, and 90% being right-handed, humans are the only species that show a distinct preference for using one hand over the other. Other mammals, such as mice, cats, rats or chimpanzees, show no, or a very small, bias when it comes to handedness.
The Proportion of Left-Handers Remains Fairly Constant through Time
Researchers believe that the percentage of left-handed people in the population has remained constant for over 30,000 years. There are also some historical signs that show that right-handed people represented a vast majority of the population as far back as several hundred thousand years, which means that our ancestors, the Neanderthals, were also biased towards right-handedness.
The Word “Left” Carries Many Negative Meanings
The English word “left” originates from the Anglo-Saxon “lyft”, meaning weak or broken. Even modern English dictionaries define “left-handed” as ambiguous, awkward, clumsy, crippled, defective, doubtful, inapt, inauspicious, illegitimate, ill-omened, and questionable. And as if that is not enough for the poor “lefties”, there are also numerous phrases in the English language that give left-handedness a negative meaning. For example, a “left-handed compliment” is actually an insult, and a “left-handed marriage” is actually an adulterous relationship. The majority of other languages of the world are also similarly negative about left-handedness.
30 Million Americans Are Left-Handed
The world-wide statistics also apply to the US: 10% of the population is supposed to be left-handed, and 30 million US “lefties” confirm that. That also means that approximately 400,000 left-handed children are born each year in the US. Most stay that way for the rest of their lives, since forced right-handedness is outdated nowadays, especially in western societies.
Left-Handed People Often Excel at Sports
According to the statistics, about 40% of the world’s top tennis players are left-handed – although only 1 in 10 people is left-handed, among exceptionally good tennis players this rate surprisingly becomes 2 in 5. And it is not only tennis where left-handed people excel – it is also boxing, swimming, fencing, baseball and many other sports. Babe Ruth, Pelé, Wayne Gretzky, Rafael Nadal, Manny Pacquiáo, Joe Frazier, Sandy Koufax and Jimmy Connors are (were) all left-handed…
5 out of Last 7 US Presidents Were Left-Handed
Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford are or were all left-handed (Reagan was actually ambidextrous, but had been born left-handed), and there have been other left-handed presidents in the past: Harry Truman, Herbert Hoover and likely some others too (but left-handedness used to be treated as a disability, and was often hidden and suppressed). But even 7 left-handed presidents among all 44 of them is notably higher than the usual 10% of the population. Just a coincidence?
Left-Handed People Don’t Live Shorter Lives
Studies in the 1980s and 1990s appeared to prove one of the most notorious left handed facts: left-handed people were on average supposed to live 9 years less than right-handed people. This conclusion was then explained with the simple fact that the world is created for right-handed people, making left-handed people more prone to fatal injuries and accidents. But that has now been found to be just a myth and these studies have since been refuted. Recent studies show that there is no significant difference between life expectancy of left- and right-handed people.
Left-Handed People Are No More Intelligent than Right-Handed People
Another popular myth that can often be found among left handed facts tells that left-handed people are supposed to be smarter than right-handed people, but recent studies reveal that this is simply not true. What might be true is that “lefties” are often better at math, 3D perception, multi-tasking and creativity, but studying the average IQ of left- and right-handed people shows no major differences among the groups.
The myth has probably been around for so long simply because it is true that the percentage of left-handed people with an IQ higher of 140 is much greater than just the 10% of the population level. But, unfortunately for “lefties”, the percentage of left-handed people is also much greater at the bottom end of the IQ scale. If anything, this shows only that left-handed people are more likely to intellectually stand out from the average – either in a good or in a bad way.
Many Famous People of the Past Were Left-Handed
Not just US presidents and athletes, but also musicians, scientists, successful entrepreneurs, writers, movie stars, world conquerors and many other impressive people. Famous names of the past, such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Leonardo da Vinci, Horatio Nelson, Mozart, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Marilyn Monroe, Mark Twain, Aristotle, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Albert Einstein, Paganini, Jimi Hendrix, and Alexander the Great give inspiration to all left-handed people to keep reaching for the stars. Some consolation for right-handed people: the list of exceptional right-handed people of the past would be no shorter.
Left-Handedness Was a Shameful Thing through Most of History
Left handed facts reveal that left-handedness has been (mis)interpreted countless times over the course of the centuries as something very negative. There were times when left-handed people were regarded as witches or warlocks, devil worshippers, criminals, mentally ill, unlucky, malicious, infertile, clumsy, dishonest or even cursed.
While most of these labels can be easily dismissed as primitive superstitions, there are some conditions that are indeed more often found in left-handed people: alcoholism, schizophrenia, dyslexia, autism and some mental disabilities.
Left-Handed People Are One of the Last Unorganized Minorities
In a world where people almost always join their efforts to fight for their minority rights and the rights of those who are similar to them, left-handed people remain mostly unorganized in their efforts to present themselves to the world as a unified group of individuals who share similar difficulties in life.
There have been magazines for left-handed people, special groups where “lefties” gathered and minor celebrations in honor of left-handedness, but most of them were either very short-lived or completely overlooked by the masses. “Lefties” of the world, unite!
Right Hand Is Mentioned 100 Times in the Bible, Left Hand Only 25
The Bible frequently mentions hands in various contexts, but the incongruity between mentioning the left hand and the right hand is truly astonishing – the ratio is 4 to 1 in favor of the right one. Furthermore, the right is always mentioned in a positive manner, while the left in a negative one.
But left hand facts that are connected to religion don’t end there. The devil has often been portrayed as left-handed in various forms of art, and many religious practices in various religions specifically demand the use of right hand.
Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William Are All Left-Handed
Since left-handedness is partially hereditary, it is no big surprise that so many members of the British Royal Family are left-handed. But it is certainly interesting to note that the current monarch and both the first and second in line for the throne are all left-handed.
Violent Societies Have More Left-Handed People
Although most societies in the modern world have close to the expected 10% share of left-handed people in their populations, there are certain societies that greatly surpass this average. What is even more interesting is that these societies are often more violent – the Eipo people from Indonesia, for example, live in a very violent society and consist of 20 – 30% of left-handed people.
There is a reason for that. This society, and similarly violent societies, have so many left-handed people because “lefties” are generally more skilled in hand-to-hand combat and have thus managed to survive longer on average than right-handed people
Left-Handed People See Better Underwater
This is truly one of the most bizarre left handed facts, but left-handed people can actually adjust more easily to seeing underwater. Scientists attribute this peculiarity to left-handed people having a different dominant part of the brain than right-handed do, although full reasons are still unclear. What is clear, is that this means left-handed people should make exceptionally good divers.
Mothers over 40 Are More Likely to Have a Left-Handed Baby
And the chances for them giving a birth to a “lefty” are not just slightly higher; studies have shown that mothers over 40 years of age are 128% more likely to have a left-handed baby than mothers in their 20s.
Left-Handed People Are Better at Video Games
Left-handed people are generally better at multitasking, so it is perfectly logical that they tend to be better at playing video games, too. Video games often generate a large amount of stimuli and “lefties” are often much better at processing these huge amounts of simultaneous stimuli, reacting better to what occurs on the computer screen.
There Is a Town Named Left Hand in West Virginia
This small community of about 500 people has an elementary school and a post office, and is conveniently located only 33 miles north-east from the state capital Charleston. You may like to know that right-handed people are allowed to live there, too.
Left Handed Facts – Facts about Left Handed People Summary
Left-handedness occurs in about 10% of the population, but its exact cause is still not known. There are many myths left over from the past about left-handed people that attribute various negative characteristics to them, but it is certainly true that “lefties” perform differently in some things when compared to the right-handed majority. Humans are the only species that shows a clear preference for use of a specific hand, but left-handed people have thus far shown very little interest in joining their efforts in organized groups to improve their sometimes still inferior status in the society. Many do, however, celebrate the International Left-Handers Day each year.