Around one in ten people are left handed, and scientists can’t seem to agree why some people are born with dominance on their left side.
Being a leftie can cause a few problems – think smudging your writing and struggling with scissors – but it used to be a much more serious issue. Up to the 1960s in the UK many children were forced to use their right hands to write, even if they were naturally inclined to use their left. This still happens in some parts of the world, and can cause children to struggle with writing and harm their confidence.
In many languages, the word left is the same as the word for unusual or sinister, and the word for right is the same as the word for correct or good. This is because people used to associate left handedness with witchcraft and evil!
Now in this country, we know that being left or right handed isn’t a choice – it’s just the way you’re born. Scientists have found that it’s partly down to your genes, so kids with two left handed parents are more likely to be left handed themselves.
However no-one has been able to identify the exact gene that affects which side you happen to lean towards. The latest thinking is that there are a number of genes are work, and it’s the combination of these that decides handedness.
In day to day life, being in the left-handed majority can sometimes be a big advantage. Lefties excel in sports like cricket and baseball, and are often more artistic and creative than their right-handed cousins. Oddly enough, five out of the last seven presidents of America have been left handed.
Super-famous lefties throughout the ages
- Barack Obama
- Joan of Arc
- Julius Caesar
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Jimi Hendrix
- Tom Cruise
- Marilyn Monroe