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There’s Nothing Right About Left Handers Day

Lost in the shuffle during these dog days of summer is a day that is probably lost on many of you reading this, but it’s a day of great (well, halfway decent) significance.

Today is Left Handers Day.

The day is the creation of the International Left Handers Club, which, in 1992, set aside August 13th of each year to celebrate the southpaws among us.

It’s such a big deal, the day has its own website.

This is a very personal thing for me, you see I come for a line of left handers.  My Dad is a southpaw, as am I, and so is my oldest daughter, who’s now 26.

My grandson is four and still on the fence about which hand he prefers, but there’s still hope for him.

In honor of LHD, both ABC News and EverydayHealth.com devoted stories on the internet to things you may not know about lefties.

Among my favorites:

Lefties can throw a punch

When researchers at the University of Montpellier in France surveyed nine primitive societies in five separate continents, they found a higher percentage of lefties translated into more frequent violent encounters. Furthermore, lefties often had the upper hand in a fight because of the element of surprise. No one expects a punch to come out of left field.

This same sneak attack seems to cross over into a sports advantage, the researchers speculated, especially in sports like boxing, tennis and fencing where opponents go head-to-head.

Even though I have been a sports fanatic my entire life, there’s a reason why I’ve chosen a profession that talks about athletics, rather than taking part.

As for the fighting part, I can count the number of times I’ve thrown, and landed, a punch on one hand, which of course is my left!

Animals have a paw preference, too

One British study, among others, found that about 40 percent of cats are southpaws, with an additional 10 percent happy to swat a ball of yarn with either paw. Another Brit study found paw preference in dogs is split about evenly.

It seems Fido takes sides with his tail, too. Last year, an Italian study suggested that when dogs wag their tails from right to left, it signifies happiness. Wagging from left to right demonstrates displeasure.

I’ve been around one or more cats on a daily basis for the last 16 years and can honestly say I have never thought to examine which dominant hand they might be using.

One thing I can say with great certainty: I’m sure the cats couldn’t care less!

We love leftie leaders

The fact that five of our last seven commanders in chief have been lefties is probably a coincidence. However, as one recent Dutch investigation suggested, right-handed politicians may want to fake it to the left.

Left-handed people tend to raise their left hands when speaking about something good whereas right handers tend to raise their right hand. But in televised debates, when a person raises his or her right hand, it will appear on a viewer’s left, just as if the person was sitting in a chair in front of them. For this reason, viewers subconsciously interpret left-hand movements as good and right-hand movements as bad.

I’m not going to get too political here, but regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on I think you’ll agree:  just because we elect (and re-elect) them, doesn’t mean they’re going to be any good, left handed or not.

Lefties use their brains differently

Lefties may use their noggins slightly differently from righties, the research suggests. For example, one Australian study found left-handed people access both hemispheres of their brain more readily than right-handed people, who tend to be left hemisphere-dominant.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using the brain with a more even distribution. Some studies find lefties to be more creative and more resilient when recovering from strokes. However, other studies imply lefties are more susceptible to ADHD, schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

The people closest to me have been wondering for years why my brain works the way it does.  I don’t think simply blaming it on being left handed is going to give me immunity for my sometimes idiotic tendencies.

Lefties are often left out

Scissors and computer mice were designed without a second thought for lefties. That’s inconvenient. But leaving left handed people out of the equation in scientific research may have far-reaching consequences, Dutch scientists have said.

Writing in the journal Nature earlier this year, the scientists pointed out that left-handed people have different brains and genes from right-handed people, yet are rarely included as study subjects. As a result, we may be missing out on important information in everything from neuroscience to genetic disorders, the scientists said.

I know, cue the sad music right?

I will admit, the scissors thing is a challenge, but there are two areas where lefties have a distinct advantage:

1) Place settings at tables.  Where’s your fork?  Right there on the left.  No reaching across the plate, dragging my sleeves through beef stroganoff!

2) Bathroom sinks.  If there are separate hot and cold water controls, I don’t have to reach across with my left hand to turn on the cold while brushing my teeth, because my right hand is already free!

Lefties Make Better Artists

Southpaws have been bragging about their creative clout for years. But is it true — does being left-handed mean you’re also more likely to be artistic or innovative?

According to research published in the American Journal of Psychology, there is some evidence that left-handed people have the upper hand in at least one creative facet — they’re better at divergent thinking, a method of idea generation that explores many possible solutions.

You think I put the athletic one to shame, this is an even bigger joke!  My complete and utter lack of artistic skills would make even Bob Ross swear a blue streak!

Lefties Are Scaredy-Cats

If you’re a left-hander, you tend to be more affected by fear than people who use their right hands, according to recent research presented at the annual conference of the British Psychology Society.

That may be true, but I can tell you that when I’m watching a scary movie, I’m covering my eyes with both hands!

Left-Handers Get Angrier, Too

If you just can’t get let go of that spat you had with your right-handed pal (but he seemed to move on just fine), you may be able to blame it on your handedness: According to a small study published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease , lefties are more prone to having negative emotions. In addition, they seem to have a more difficult time processing their feelings.

As a general rule, I am not an angry person, but I’m not too old to change, especially if I’ve got science on my side.  I have a feeling I’m going to make one heck of a grumpy old man!

By the way, the ‘experts’ also point out that lefties have a higher risk of psychosis, and is it any wonder when you see what we have to deal with?

So to all my fellow southpaws out there – raise a hand in honor of this special day.

Just make sure it’s the left one!

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