Left-handed people make up about 10 percent of the world’s population; however the ability to use the left hand in a serviceable way varies to different degrees, which creates a wider range between 7 and 30 percent of lefties. As the overwhelming minority, left-handed people have no choice but to exist in a world catered to right-handed people. On the flip side, this uniquely dexterous group of people has been given their own day; August 13 has been named International Left-Handers Day.  

The Left-Handers Club began launching events dedicated to left-handed people in 1990 throughout the world. There are more than 20 events, which include left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs that exclusively use left-handed corkscrews, left-handed pub games, and the encouragement of left-handed objects.

According to the website, the events are used to draw general awareness to the daily difficulties left-handed people have to go through living in a right-handed world. Whether they have to use left-handed can openers, or face the difficulty opening a front draw, or even simply suffer writing on a notepad left-to-right, which drags the ink underneath their hands, the bottom line is that left-handed people are inconvenienced.

What Makes a Person a Lefty?

Why are some people left-handed, and why are they the minority? Researchers haven’t quite figured that out yet, but some believe it’s a complex collaboration between genes and environment. There isn’t a distinct gene that indicates left-handedness; however, there is a difference between brain capabilities in righties and lefties.

Chris McManus, a professor of psychology and medical education at University College London, told Scientific American that left-handed people do not have a higher IQ than those who are right dominant; in fact, there is a slightly higher proportion of lefties that have dyslexia or a speech impediment. This, McManus says, is due to a fundamental difference in the brain structure depending on which hand is dominant. While lefties may have speech issues, left-handers' brains allow them to process language, spatial relations, and emotions in more creative ways — which is the reason there is a high percentage of musically and mathematically inclined lefties than there are righties.

Counterintuitively, the "sinistral brain" of the lefty uses the right hemisphere of the brain more dominantly than the left side of the brain — just as right-handed people use the left side of the brain for everyday thought process. This is because the right hemisphere of the brain controls the left hemisphere of the body, and the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right hemisphere of the body. This can be seen in stroke patients who experience brain damage on one side of their brain; the opposite side of their body may be paralyzed.

Strengths of Righties vs. Lefties

Right-handed AKA left-brained people tend to be have higher abilities in:

  • Logic
  • Analysis
  • Sequencing
  • Linear
  • Mathematics
  • Language
  • Facts
  • Thinking in words
  • Remembering words of songs
  • Computation

Left-handed AKA right-brained people tend to have higher abilities in:

  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Holistic Thinking
  • Intuition
  • Arts (Motor skills)
  • Rhythm (Beats)
  • Non-verbal expression
  • Expressing feelings
  • Visualization
  • Remember the tune of songs
  • Daydreaming

The right, non-verbal thinking brain is often labeled the more creative side, which would indicate that left-handed people are more creative. However, this is not the case. It's much more accurate to say that the right side of the brain only approaches creativity in a different way than the left side of the brain does. 

Famous And Influential Lefties

There have been countless number of both right- and left-handed artists and forward thinkers in history and currently. But in honor of Left-Hander’s Day, it’s worth it to explore the most notable lefties of all time. Some researchers believe lefties are capable of more complex reasoning, which is why there's a particularly high number of lefty Noble Prize winners, artists, writers, architects, musicians, and mathematicians. Others theorize that lefties are forced to find solutions in order to survive in a right-dominated world, which means they experience extra mental resilience. 

Left-Handed Presidents

The last five presidents were all left-handed except for George W. Bush. Despite Ronald Reagan’s parents attempt to dissuade him, he still had a natural inclination to use his left hand.

Left-Handed Inventors

Inventors such as Benjamin Franklin and Henry Ford were left-handed, and a more rare case were the ambidextrous Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein, who were both able to aptly use both hands.

Left-Handed Artists

Artists such as M.C. Escher, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Renoir are all to this day world-acclaimed artists.

Celebrating Left-Handers Day

There are many accomplishments of the left-handed people, and they can be celebrated at places across the world on Left-Handers Day, such as Niwot, Colorado, a town that translates to “Left Hand” in Arapaho language. People can participate in a round of lefty football in an Australian football league, or people can gather at the Left Hand Festival in Ireland, in a town whose name translates to ‘the Town of the Left Hand Mill’ where a left-handed golf competition will take place.