Does being left-handed make you special?

Published August 13, 2020, 7:00 PM

by Jules Vivas

Of course it does. The question is how?

Illustration from Freepik

We’re living in a right-handed world. In fact, only 10 percent of the world’s population is left-handed. It’s true that we don’t normally mind left-handed folks. It’s not until we encounter that one left-handed desk at school, or an instrument customized for a leftie, or when the person next to us at the dining table is holding their utensils differently, do we talk about them.

Because it is International Left Handers Day, we’re going to prove the point—not that there’s even a contention—that lefties are extraordinary people.

 The non-official holiday that celebrates the uniqueness of left-handers worldwide, was first observed in 1976 by Dean R. Campbell, founder of the Lefthanders International, Inc. It was created to commemorate sinistrality (the quality of having the left side or one or more of its parts, such as  the hand or eye, different from and the usually more efficient right or its corresponding parts) and raise awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed in a predominantly right-handed society.

Albert Einstein, photo from Getty Images

While we are aware that lefties are normal people too, history wasn’t always so kind to them. Being a leftie during the Middle Ages was enough to get you accused of being a witch. Left-handed children were forced to use their right hands in schools in the 18th and 19th centuries. Just imagine how dreadful and grueling it is to write all day with your non-dominant hand. These biases went on well into the 20th century. In the 1970s, the Soviet bloc even had official policies against left-handed people.

Looking back through the annals of time would also reveal that there are many geniuses and innovators who were left-handed, Albert Einstein, Jack The Ripper, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Aristotle, Neil Armstrong, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Joan of Arc, and Helen Keller were some of them.

Peter Paul Rubens

Great painters like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonaroti, and Peter Paul Rubens, changed the landscape of renaissance art. Meanwhile in music, Benjamin Britten, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Eminem, Kurt Cobain, Noel Gallagher, Bob Geldof, Jimi Hendrix, Annie Lennox, Sir Paul McCartney, Ricky Martin, and Sting represent the lefties.

In Hollywood, it’s seems as though being left-handed was a pre-requisite to be among the best, durable actors, like Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Drew Barrymore, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Kim Basinger, Nicole Kidman, Pierce Brosnan, Lisa Kudrow, Kenneth Branagh, Jim Carrey, Val Kilmer, Matt Dillon, Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Jessica Parker, Judy Garland, Keanu Reeves, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Saunders, and Sylvester Stallone.

All the decisive blows are struck left-handed.

Walter Benjamin, One Way Street And Other Writings

Writers Lewis Carroll, Bill Bryson, Germaine Greer, Berthold Schwartz, Janet Street Porter, Uhland Ludwig, are part of the lefties’ club as well. In film, directors James Cameron and Spike Lee would hold the clapper boards on their left. In fashion, the enfant terrible Jean-Paul Gaultier is the resounding name that comes to mind.

Motion Graphics Hands GIF by kimburgerly - Find & Share on GIPHY

In tribute to our dear south paw friends, we’re citing three of their most amusing traits.

They are extremely adaptable.

Nearly most instruments and machines were made by and for right-handed people. This means left-handers have had to adapt to less-than-ideal circumstances.

There are excellent fighters

Lefties are sporties. These people and can swing killer left hooks. This also has something to do with their adaptability. They are quick to adjust to unexpected situations, a vital skill in sports.

They posses superior memory of events

Psychology professor Stephen Christman of the University of Toledo and Ruth Propper of Merrimack College conducted an experiment and found that left-handed people have larger corpus callosums, the bridges of neurons linking the brain’s hemispheres, and this suggests that interaction between the two halves strengthens memory for events. Lefties remember events better than they do facts