Lefties

August 27th, 2008

I was shocked to learn yesterday that both Barack Obama and John McCain are left handed, which means whoever wins the upcoming election, our next president will be left handed.

This is freaky because Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush senior, and Bill Clinton were all lefties as well (so was Ross Perot, but he wasn’t president, so he doesn’t technically count. But it’s still bizarre).

Since only one in ten people is left-handed, what is the scientific explanation for why so many of our most recent presidents in a row have been lefties? There is none…except possibly this one, which I found on Wikipedia, well known for its truthiness:

In his book Right-Hand, Left-Hand, Chris McManus of University College London argues that the proportion of left-handers is rising and left-handed people as a group have historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers. He says that left-handers’ brains are structured differently in a way that widens their range of abilities, and the genes that determine left-handedness also govern development of the language centers of the brain.

McManus also says that the increase in the 20th century of people identifying as left-handed could produce a corresponding intellectual advance and a leap in the number of mathematical, sporting, or artistic geniuses.

In 2006, researchers at Lafayette College and Johns Hopkins University in a study found that left-handed men are 15 percent richer than right-handed men for those who attended college, and 26 percent richer if they graduated. The wage difference is still unexplainable and does not appear to apply to women.

(I think that last part of the study must have been erroneous. Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman, two of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, are both left-handed).


Ned Flanders, a lefty–like me, Angelina, and He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog. Thanks to Anything Left Handed for the use of this picture.

What can we determine from this influx of left-handed presidents in the past fifty years? Well, according to this article in the Washington Post, it isn’t that mysterious after all. Lefties tend to be naturally verbally gifted people, who are often better armed for the challenges of leadership than right-handers merely because they are lefties, and are more used to adversity (they are also allegedly more gifted in math, but I have never seen any evidence of this in myself. HWSNBNITB is quite good at math. However, he can’t draw a horse, like I can).

Sadly, there was nothing in the Wikipedia entry about left-handers being the remaining child of a set of twins who’d consumed their sibling in utero, a theory my left-handed heroine Samantha Madison espouses in All American Girl (I swear I saw a show on the Discovery Channel all about this).

Lefties. Who knew?


Future president? It’s entirely possible. She’s a lefty.

More later.

Much love,

Meg