How many famous left-handed people can you count on your left hand?

Here’s a hint: Prince William, Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo da Vinci, Jimi Hendrix, Martina Navratilova, Nicole Kidman and Ned Flanders.

On any other day, this would be a completely irrelevant and useless fact. But today is International Left-Handers Day, an initiative of the International Left-Handers Club, or “south paws” that was started back in 1992.

It’s supposed to make the rest of us aware of the challenges that come with living as a left-handed person in a right-handed dominated world. All those messy Christmas cards from smudging ink, and trouble opening locks have got to have some advantages, right?

But you get the feeling that if everything we read were true we’d be commiserating, not celebrating with left-handers today. Few human physical characteristics have been viewed with more suspicion and intrigue than left-handedness.


Prince William

Hands up if you’re left-handed: Prince William is part of the International Left-Handers Club. Source: Supplied

In the early days of Christianity, left-handed folk were considered evil. That was mostly because they associated the right hand with blessings and making the sign of the cross. Also, it was widely believed that the devil sat on the left hand side.

But we can’t blame all on our misgivings about left-handedness on superstitious ancestors.

Schoolteachers only stopped trying to re-direct left-handers in Australian around 1960. Plus, quite a few recent international studies have uncovered some pretty glum results.

Like the fact that left-handedness can be caused by a woman experiencing high levels of stress throughout her pregnancy. According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, can interfere with brain development, leaving pregnant women three times more likely to have left or mixed-handed children.

Another Swedish study found left-handed people can also be more prone to impaired learning and function and even greater risk of brain injury because of their right-brain dominance.


Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was left-handed. Source: Supplied

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Left-handers have also long been considered smarter than their right-handed counterparts. And that comes down to the idea of right and left brain dominance.

Your left brain controls your right hand and your right brain controls your left hand. Because the right side of our brains are responsible for expression and thinking, it’s often though that left-handers are just that little bit more creative and visual than the rest of us.

At the end of the day however, most of this science is far too inconclusive, said Australian Medical Association President Dr Steve Hambleton. He told there really aren’t many clear advantages or disadvantages of being left-handed, although he does recommend investing in a good supply of left-handed implements. Especially hockey sticks and scissors.

And what better way to celebrate International Left-Handers Day than taking a trip to “The Leftorium”.

Over to you, Ned.