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James May left-handed science

This fantastic video from BBC's James May (as part of his YouTube ‘Head Squeeze' series) looks into the science behind why people are left-handed. Is it genetic? Is it a disadvantage? These questions and more are covered in his video below:

From the James May video post:

Once thought to be in league with the devil, left-handed people, while not especially evil, are indeed special in many ways. James May explains all in this Head Squeeze video.

In mediaeval times lefties were believed to be in league with Beelzebub himself, this gave rise to the word sinister from the Latin ‘sinistra' meaning of the left. Later on scientists proposed that left-handed people had their brains wired differently, which turned out to be only partially true.

Most of us, between 75 to 90 percent use the left hemisphere of our brains to speak and understand language. The other hemisphere is used to control our dominant hand. Research has shown however that only 30 per cent of left-handers have reversed brain lateralisation, or indeed no dominant side at all.

Genetics play a big part in your dominant hand. If you have two left-handed parents, there is 26 per cent chance that you will be too. This is double the average odds.

There are some statistical advantages and disadvantages to being left-handed. Schizophrenia, dyslexia and ADHD are more prevalent. However susceptibility to arthritis and ulcers is less.

Left-handed people do well in sport and fighting, as the majority of people are not used to going up against such opponents. There is evidence that they are more creative too with a disproportionate amount of artists painting with their left hand.

In terms of famous left-handed people, four out of the last seven presidents have been – President Obama, Clinton, Bush senior and Ford.

However as only those who are true lefties know, the world is stacked against them. Dozens of daily household items we take for granted, from corkscrews to scissors, even books, are designed for the right-handed majority.

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3 comments on “James May left-handed science
  1. brian says:

    left handed people find mathmatics simplier to understand because it is one skill that is read right to left.

  2. Ghislaine Laure says:

    Excellent article – I just wish he had gone into more depth! And yes, I am a natural lefty, in spite of my mother and my first grade teacher (a nun) tried to change me. I was about 3 and we were sitting at the coffee table; she put the pencil in my right hand to try to write with it, but it felt like my arm and hand weren’t connected to my brain. She gave up when I started crying, and actually stood up for me when I told her about the nun.There is only one other lefty of whom I am aware, in either side of my family, a paternal aunt.I have read of research which purports to a connection between birth trauma (like lack of oxygen) and left handedness. Since mine is in this category, it may be the cause in my case.

  3. james norton says:

    I don’t know ’bout that whatsoever, Hey, I’m full-blooded lefthanded, that is to say I have adjusted, yet I see that the tide is turning such that I believe “we” are in for a terribly hard tomorrow. This is a righthanded world (abviously), and that the state of “it” is, well, a pointing fingers sort of delimmea. I had hoped, and will always be hoping that “we” will return to our native lefty world, to leave this ragged, wasting righty world forever behind. “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” Ya know, Like that. And why won’t “they” make a piano–production kinda quality– for us? Sucks man.
    Norton

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