Thursday, August 12, 2010

Southpaws summon for the rightminded

By Raza Elahi

What is common among former US presidents Gerald Ford, George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? To tease you further Paul McCartney, Prince Charles, Queen Victoria and Oprah Winfrey also belong to the same common club.

If you have thought the answer “they are all left-handed”, right on. These famous men and women are among the thousands of left-handers who have left their mark on the world.

Tomorrow (August 13) is International Left-Handers’ Day, a day meant to promote awareness of the inconveniences facing left-handers in a predominantly right-handed world. There are some left-hander handicaps like guitar, violin, camera, sewing machine, scissors and classroom chairs etc.

But southpaws, who form 10 percent of the world's population, have made a strong case for being smarter, showing more leadership qualities and intelligence than the vast right-handed majority. According to experts, the right side of the brain is more capable of multi-tasking. Left-handed people use the right side of their brain, which means ‘lefties’ are thought to be good at music, art, creativity, perception, emotions, genius, and even sports, in what is known as the holistic thinking mode.

Dr Alan Searleman, from St Lawrence University in New York, has gathered evidence on the link between left-handedness and intellectual creativity and has discovered that they have a higher ‘fluid intelligence, a better vocabulary and are better at problem-solving.

The left-handers form an exclusive club. Some of the big names of history, politics, literature and entertainment are left-handers – Julias Ceaser, Pabalo Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, HG Wells, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Daylan, Alexander the Great, Napolean Bonaparte, Fidel Castro, Queen Victoria, Thomas Edison, Paul McCartney and many more, including our very own Amitabh Bachchan.

Many people may not know that the US has had five left-handed presidents since 1974 –Gerald Ford, Ronald Regan, George H W Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The high ratio of left-handers who climb to the top of the US political ladder is all the more baffling, when one considers that only 10-12% of Americans write with their left hands. Even the ranks of vice-presidents or unsuccessful contenders for the White House are heavy with left-handers. John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, John Edwards and Ross Perot were all lefties.

It is certainly not a left-handed compliment!

(The writer, who is also a left-hander, can be contacted at

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