Happy International Lefthanders Day! August 13 is the day set aside for that small percentage of the population (10 percent, according to Huffington Post) who have to get by in a world that clearly wasn’t made for them. Here, now, are a few facts you might not know about being left-handed.
We Have You To Thank For The Word “Sinister”
You may remember the word “sinister” being tossed about on Saturday-morning cartoons like He-Man and such, used as an ear-tickling way of describing the villain. And while today the word means “evil” or “malicious,” it comes from a Latin root meaning “on the left side.”
And the conflation of the terms “left side” and “evil” doesn’t just exist in the dictionary: superstitions about left-handedness, or about the left side of things in general, go back millenia.
What’s more, according to history blog Right Left, Right Wrong, using the left hand in Medieval Europe could get you flogged or even burned at the stake, due to the left side’s supposed association with the devil.
Even until the middle of the 20th century, some American schools would attempt to force children to use the right hand — a practice which continues in parts of Asia to this day, according to left-handers historian Maura Elizabeth Cunningham.
You Seem To Run For President — And Win — Quite A Lot
Since August 9, 1974 (the day Gerald Ford was inaugurated), eight men have been President of the United States. Five of them (Ford, Reagan, George HW Bush, Clinton, and Obama) have been left-handed, according to ThoughtCo. Another three left-handed presidents (Garfield, Hoover and Truman) predate the modern era (which is defined arbitrarily, for this article, as when this writer was born).
Other presidents before Garfield may have also been naturally left-handed, but history will never know, because of the stigma attached to left-handedness at the time. In other words, George Washington may have been in the left-handed closet, so to speak.
And although the 2016 election came down to two right-handers (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both righties), there were some lefties in the mix during the primary season, including Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham, according to Quora.
— Maddi Arratibel (@MaddiArratibel) August 13, 2017
We Still Don’t Know What Causes Left-Handedness
Tens of millions of dollars in research grants, and over a century of looking into it, and the science community still scratches its collective head about what causes left-handedness. According to Huffington Post, genetics seems to play a role (lefties have more left-handed family members). But as yet, no “lefty” gene has been isolated and identified.
Brains scans of left-handed individuals are different from those of right-handed individuals — and that’s about it. The “how” and the “why” aspect of this phenomenon remains elusive.
Fortunately for modern lefties, while we may not know what’s causing your lefthandedness, and while it’s still an inconvenience for you, you can take comfort in the fact that at least you won’t be burned at the stake for it. And what’s more, you may have a statistical advantage, should you ever decide to run for president.
Happy Lefthanders Day!
[Featured Image by everydayplus/Thinkstock]