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Do lefties really have the upper hand?

Obama has become something of a poster boy for the lefties, who’ve recently created a Left-Hander of the Year award, writes Vijay Dutt.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2009 14:38 IST
Vijay Dutt

The Southpaws are riding high on the Obamamania wave, and the exuberance of seeing in the Oval Office the left-handed Messiah the world was hoping for. Obama has become something of a poster boy for the lefties, who’ve recently created a Left-Hander of the Year award. The top five nominees were Obama, Angelina Jolie, Paul McCartney, David Archuleta and Rafael Nadal.

The list of great left-handers is long and formidable. About 66 per cent of American presidents in the last 30 years — five out of seven of the last presidents have been left-handed: Bill Clinton, George H W Bush (Sr), Gerald Fold and now Barack Obama.

Dr Peter Congdon, consultant on left-handers and dyslexia pointed out how Ronald Reagan in his films always shot with his left hand.

Other achievers in the list are Amitabh Bachchan, Michelangelo, Charlie Chaplin, Robert De Niro, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Aristotle, Joan of Arc and Winston Churchill.

But psychologists have debunked the belief that left-handers are generally greater achievers. Sure, the findings show them to be more independent, quick thinkers, more flexible, highly intelligent and more resilient than right-handed people.

But they are not above average high achievers. The only exception is in the case of language, music, mathematics and arts.

Explaining that exception, Dr Congdon said, “It’s because of the neurological packaging. The left side of the brain deals with these talents.”

Movement and emotions are monitored by the right side of the brain while the left brain focuses on syntax and order.

Which could explain the career paths of Nadal, Newton, Einstein, Bachchan.

A UCL study also found that the number of lefties has grown from three per cent in the last century to around 11 per cent now. Dr McManus said that proliferation was due to increased tolerance of left-handed children.

Dr Congdon agreed, pointing out the case of George VI’s nanny, who would reportedly tie his left hand to force him to become a righty.

But despite the rising numbers, Dr McManus said lefties are the “last neglected minority”. That could ‘change’ now, with Obama leading the ‘movement for change’.