The Student News Site of Taipei American School




The world according to a leftie



As a history fanatic, there are moments when I’d love nothing more than to travel back in time and spend a day in Ancient Rome or Renaissance Florence. Unfortunately, they would probably hang me. No, no, not for being a time traveling witch.

For being left handed.

Not that I’d blame them! Left-handers haven’t really had the best rep. The Latin word for “left” is sinister. Yes, that means exactly what you think it means. On the other hand (literally), the Latin word for “right” is dexter, as in dexterous and dexterity, which mean “skilled” in English. During the 18th

 century, scientists came up with this theory that all left-handed people started off as infant murderers who would kill their right-handed twin in the womb. According to the Bible, the Devil is also a leftie. Did I mention being left handed also meant you were twice as likely to develop ADHD, schizophrenia, and even cancer?

This would explain why, for centuries, school teachers and parents would force children to write with their right, because back then being left-handed was about as desirable as having a unibrow…on your neck. Some parents would even resort to tying their children’s left hands behind their backs to stop them from using it.  About 10% of the human population

is naturally born left-handed, but for the majority of written history, this number has been artificially reduced by superstitious parents and some rather unfortunate etymology.

However, in more modern times, some people believe being left-handed actually makes you smarter. Twenty percent of MENSA, a world renowned high IQ society, is left handed, which isn’t that impressive until you realize that’s double the percentage of left handers in the rest of the world. Commonly cited examples of brilliant lefties include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Leonardo Da Vinci, Barack Obama, and even Aristotle. According to sites like and (yup, no biases here…) a combination of having more inter-lobe interaction in the brain and being forced to adapt to a world built for right-handed people makes left-handers smarter and more creative.

I’ll admit that there are a few disadvantages to living in a world built for your mirror image. Being forced to write on whiteboards, where my words smudge as quickly as I write them, ranks among my top ten biggest fears. My relationship with three-ring binders and spiral notebooks is shaky at best, and I did get a C+ in 5th grade English because writing left to right meant all my essays were smudged to the point of illegibility.

In all honesty, though, being left-handed has about as much effect on your life as hair texture does.  You aren’t really affected by it, except for those rare occasions when you play Elbow Wars at dinner or study brain hemispheres in psychology class. Trying to figure out someone’s IQ or the likelihood of them turning into a deranged murderer solely based on their handedness…well, that makes about as much sense as a unibrow…on your neck.

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