Why are left-handed people so brilliant?

A self-confessed spawn of the devil thinks there's a lot to be said for his tribe

Share

What do Barack Obama, David Cameron and Osama bin Laden have in common? Obvious, isn't it? What about Prince William, Melinda Messenger and Bart Simpson? No? According to a highly scientific study, they are all more likely to suffer from schizophrenia. This is because they are left-handed.

Scientists at Yale have yet to explain their findings, and you have to wonder at the accuracy of such claims based on just 107 people. Still, this didn't deter certain headline writers from shrieking that we lefties are "more likely to be psychotic!".

One of the great remaining mysteries of science is the brain, and it's particularly noticeable how little we know about handedness. Why are more men left-handed than women, and why do left-handers account for only one in 10 people worldwide?

What we do know is that the cack-handed are disproportionately brilliant. Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle, Julius Caesar and Charles Darwin were all gauchists. So were Michelangelo and Rubens, Benjamin Britten, Kurt Cobain and Paul McCartney, five of the seven most recent US presidents, and four of the five designers of the Apple Mac.

Despite this, the kaggy-fisted have endured centuries of prejudice. We're told we are the spawn of the devil: crippled, defective, clumsy, inept, doubtful, questionable, ill-omened, inauspicious and illegitimate – and that's only by the Oxford English Dictionary. The very word "left" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "lyft", meaning weak or broken. The Latin "sinister" rather speaks for itself.

Other cultures have been more generous. The Incas believed we had special spiritual powers, while the North American Zuni thought left-handedness meant good luck. In Buddhism, the Left Hand Path is associated with a quest for spiritual freedom.

Nikolai Leskov did much for Russian lefties in the 19th century, with his Tale of the Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea. It tells of an illiterate left-handed peasant so skilled he can shoe a flea, outwitting rival British gunsmiths. But most cultures agree: the left is decidedly dodgy. In Islamic and many Asian countries, it's the hand used for rectal cleansing.

The only time I curse being left-handed is when writing letters and finding my clammy fist, dragging along behind, has reduced the words to a smeary mess. The invention of the QWERTY keyboard has been the saving of us devil children. And who do we have to thank for that? Christopher Latham Sholes, the US newspaper editor credited with inventing the typewriter. And, yes, he was left-handed, too.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Only a game? Far from it

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking at the Grand Mosque in Mosul  

The al-Baghdadi doctrine: leading British Muslims offer their response

Independent Voices
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil