Nick LooneyMrs. GribbinResearch Paper918 JanuaryDecember 2017Left is Right:Lefties are More Successful Than Righties A person’s hands can say a lot about them. People whose right thumb naturally ends up on top when clasping their hands are usually in the majority; but people whose left thumb naturally ends up above the right are part of a special group. Lefties make up only 10% of the world’s population and have been discriminated against for years. Yet a significant amount perform better than their right handed counterparts. Surveys and other data show that in general, “lefties are more intelligent, are much better in the looks department, and are more multi-talented than their right handed counterparts” (Deel). Due to past successes, high proficiency in certain fields, statistics, and neuroscience, left handers are more successful than right handers. Despite years and years of lefties being told they are “evil” for which hand they prefer, and being forced to try and rewire their brains and rework their lifestyles to that of a righthander, the left handed population has endured. It has even grown, to 10% of the world’s population (Live Science Staff). The etymology of the left hand even shows the clear bias against left handers. Ever heard of the word sinister? In today’s world, it signifies a great evil. But the word sinister comes from the Latin root sinistral, which means left (Bergland). The Greek word skaios means awkward and strange, but it also means left (Bergland). In Southeast Asia and, in Hindi-speaking countries, the public refers to left handed people as “ulta haanth,” or “wrong hand” (Bergland). This prejudice is not limited to older languages, either. Modern German uses the word links to describe the left side, which also means weak (Bergland).  French uses the word “gauche,” which also means awkward (Bergland). This bias primes lefties for emotional growth leading to success. Neurologically, lefties are wired in a more neurologically efficient way. The University of Athens conducted an extensive study into the brain power of both left handers and right handers. Their first test, the Trail Making Test, had participants try and find a logical path through a circle of letters and numbers (Konnikova). Lefties performed better, showing they have more skill at divergent thinking (Konnikova). Next was the Sequencing test, where subjects had to repeat letters and numbers in specific orders, which lefties also exceeded at (Konnikova). The requirement for peak cognitive performance is to use both sides of the cerebellum (Bergland). Right handed actions only require the left side of the cerebellum, while left handed actions use and stimulate both sides (Bergland). Lefties scientifically use more of the brain’s resources. Left handed people are , historically, some of the most successful people. Many past success stories involve a left handed person. For example, that a quarter of all astronauts are left handed. This a 250% improbability because of the size of the left handed population of the world (De Kay). Some famous lefties, belonging to the extraordinary group of NASA astronauts are Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first two men on the moon (Famous Lefties). Another famed lefty is Helen Keller, a blind and deaf girl who went on to become a famous author and American hero. Despite her disabilities, she was intelligent enough to learn (Famous Lefties). Finally, most people would argue, “well, lefties may have the advantage in the arts, but what about other careers? Righties win there.” Most people would be wrong. F. Lee Bailey, famed lawyer involved in high profile cases, the mastermind behind OJ Simpson’s defense, is left handed (De Kay). This shows that all kinds of successful people are not left handed; showing that lefties are not simply more successful in creative fields, but successful overall. Two related fields left handers are incredibly successful in, and lucrative fields at that, are the music industry and the art industry. Paul McCartney, singer songwriter of Beatles fame, and idol to bass guitarists everywhere, one of the greatest musical minds of the 20th century, if not all time, is left handed (Famous Lefties). In addition, his fellow Beatle, famous drummer, and also a less successful singer songwriter, Richard Stark, better known as Ringo Starr, is also a left handed musician (Famous Lefties). One of the greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix, was left handed (Famous Lefties). He had to re-string his guitars and go out of the way to learn on his dominant hand in a world of right handed guitars, just so he could use the superior hand. The fact that half of what many consider to be the greatest band of all time, and most certainly one of the most successful bands of all time, were left handed. For people with more classical musical tastes, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Von Beethoven (Famous Lefties), and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, famous composers, were all left handed (De Kay). Lefties proficiency in music may come from their ability to pick up on changes in sound faster than others (Kens). But artistic greatness is not limited to musicians. Michelangelo, famous Renaissance artist and painter of the Sistine Chapel roof, his colleague, fellow artist, and genius inventor Leonardo Da Vinci, and famous painter M.C. Escher were all of the “sinister” hand (Famous Lefties). There are many more successful musicians that prefer their left hand, but too many to list here. These talented people show that left handers truly have the advantage when it comes to the fine arts. Lefties also have a high percentage of success in leadership positions, showing political competence and good decision making skills, along with a whole host of other positive qualities associated with leadership. The English monarchy has many left handers, from King George IV, to the Great Queen Victoria (DeKay), to modern royals like Princes Charles and William (Famous Lefties). Across the pond, many US president began to use their left hand after the bias against such practices dissipated. James A Garfield (DeKay) is often heralded as the first left handed President, followed in good company by Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (Famous Lefties), Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton (Konnikova). More ancient leaders like Ramses II (DeKay) and the great conqueror Charlemagne were left handed (Lamb). Athletes who use the sinister hand primarily often have the advantage because of it. Because most of an athletes’ opponents are right handed, that’s what they are prepared for; when faced with a left handed opponent, they are completely thrown off and may not know how to properly respond (Onion). There is scientific evidence for this too. In our cooperation based modern society, only 10% of the population is left handed (Live Science Staff). In more primitive and competitive societies, like in the animal kingdom, around half of the population is sinister leaning (Live Science Staff). This advantage in sports is showcased by famous athletes such as Babe Ruth, Arnold Palmer, Bobby Orr (Lamb), and Mark Spitz (DeKay). Spitz, one of the greatest swimmers of all time, had another advantage related to his handedness: lefties adapt their vision to darkness and seeing underwater much faster and more efficiently (Deel). Biologically and socially, lefties have a higher probability of beating righties in almost every sport. Another reason why lefties are often highly successful is the effect of something called “Black Sheep Psychology.” Lefties are often considered strange compared to their peers. This causes left handers to try and pull away from what everyone else is doing, and they become trailblazers. In a right handed world, many tools are tailored towards the right hand: scissors, notebooks, dry erase markers, rulers, and everything in between. Having to figure out ways around this helps left handers practice problem solving, divergent thinking, and complex solutions. The bias towards lefties may psychologically drive them towards success, but is there any truth to the anti-left sentiment? Originally, professionals like Cesare Lombroso hypothesized that left handers lead shorter lives and were more likely to have medical conditions such as schizophrenia (Konnikova). Yet these statements have been proven false. When comparing schizophrenic people to their non-schizophrenic siblings and vice versa, lefties had a proportionate probability of being schizophrenic (Konnikova). It is also hypothesized that left handers don’t lead shorter lives; there are less elderly lefties, because when the current generation of elders were children, they would have been forced to switch to using their right hand (Konnikova). In conclusion, left handers have many advantages, both scientific and statistical, that lead to a lot of success for many of them. With combinations of psychology and left handed bias, and neurological wiring, left handers often naturally turn out successful. As if that is not proof enough, many past cases of success in various forms of athletics, positions of leadership across the world and in varying time periods, and various forms of music and visual art show that left handers are often very successful people. Works CitedBergland, Christopher. “Are Lefties More Likely to Become Champions and Leaders.”Psychologytoday.com, Psychology Today, 12 Aug. 2013,www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201308/are-lefties-more-likely-become-champions-and-leaders.De Kay, James Tertius. The Left Hander’s Handbook. Mjf Books, 1997.”Famous Lefties.” Biography.com, Biography, www.biography.com/people/groups/famous-lefties.Kens, Kate. “11 Little-Known Facts About Left- Handers.” Huffingtonpost.com, The Huffington Post, 29 Oct. 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/left-handed-facts-lefties_n_2005864.html.Konnikova, Maria. “Sinister Minds: Are Left Handed People Smarter?” Newyorker.com, The New Yorker, 22 Aug. 2013, www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/sinister-minds-are-left-handed-people-smarter.Live Science Staff. “Study Reveals Why Lefties Are Rare.” Livescience.com, Live Science, 27 Apr. 2012, www.livescience.com/19968-study-reveals-lefties-rare.html.Onion, Amanda. “The Left-Handed Advantage.” Abcnews.com, ABC News, 17 Feb. 2005, abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=498707.

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