Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 43  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 161-162

Not "right" is not wrong

Consultant Physician, Shree Clinic; Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication14-Sep-2016

Correspondence Address:
Virag G Gokhale
Plot 20, Bhagwat Building, Kanjur Co-op. Housing Society, Bhandup East, Mumbai - 400 042, Maharashtra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-5009.190553

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Gokhale VG. Not "right" is not wrong. J Sci Soc 2016;43:161-2

How to cite this URL:
Gokhale VG. Not "right" is not wrong. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Jan 27];43:161-2. Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2016/43/3/161/190553


There are situations where if something is not 'right' it need not be wrong. What is not "right" may be "left." And "left" is right too! As a rule, a left-handed person is in no way inferior to a right-handed person. But it is often felt that left-handed people are clumsier. This is incorrect. Their clumsiness can be attributed to the fact that they are forced to use tools that are designed for right-handed people. In fact, over 2,500 left-handed people are killed every year by using products that are made for right-handed people. It is also estimated that the average life span of right-handed people is longer than that of left-handed people by 9 years.

Though polar bears are all supposed to be left-handed, lower animals in general do not show any hand preference or as it may be called limb preference. It would be interesting to know as to what caused the development of right-handedness in human beings. Though the exact answer is not known, there is an interesting hypothesis that attempts to explain this. The ancient human beings knew that an important organ, the injury to which could be fatal - The heart, was situated on the left side of the chest. Thus, in the pre-civilization years when everything was decided or acquired by fight or battle, the human beings held the shield in the left hand to protect the heart and used the right hand actively to hold the sword or spear or the killer weapon. Thus, over thousands of years it is the right hand that became the master hand.

This hypothesis is further substantiated by archeological discoveries of ancient tools, which reveal that in the Stone Age the number of right- and left-handed people was equal - 50:50. By the Bronze Age, 25% of the population was left-handed and today only 5% of the world's population is left-handed. This does not mean that the left-handed people have not evolved yet! If one scans through the names of lefties, he/she will find that they are as intelligent, talented, and successful as the righties!

Tests reveal that while 5% of the people are lefties, 60% are strongly right-handed, and 35% show a mixed hand preference. The number of left-handed females is half than that of left-handed males.

An interesting phenomenon is that the hand preference gives an indication of which hemisphere of the brain is dominant, as far as language network is concerned. Generally, the left hemisphere is dominant in right-handed people. In the lefties too, it is the left hemisphere that is dominant in the majority but in about 25% of the lefties, the right hemisphere is dominant.

Peter Hepper [1] working in England found that hand preference becomes evident by 12 weeks of intrauterine life! No wonder the Montessori teachers have to labor hard trying to correct (?) their left-handed wards to write with the right hand. Such attempts are found to be associated with Stuttering - A dysrythmia of speech leading to a disturbance of articulation characterized by abrupt interruptions of the flow of speech or the repetition of sounds or syllables. As per Samuel Orton, [2] if such a child returns to left-handedness, it often produces a great improvement. Interestingly, stuttering is also common in those children who are slow in selecting a master hand.

Let us look at left-handedness in our day-to-day affairs. Left-handed people tend to be better at ball sports. In particular, cricket is left-handers' favorite. In a team of 11 players, one will find at least two left-handers accounting for 20% - Four times the general population average of 5%. Sourav Ganguly, Chanderpaul, and Lara are some of the great names that come to mind. Sachin Tendulkar though a lefty, bats with his right hand. But what is more interesting is there are cricketers who bat with one hand and bowl with the other. There is a long list of such players but let us recapitulate some prominent names. Test players who batted with the right hand and bowled with the left arm - Bedi, Mohinder Singh, and RJ Shastri of India; test cricketers who batted with the left arm and bowled with the right hand - Chanderpaul, Lara, and Loyd of West Indies, and Nari Contracter, Ganguly, and Vinod Kambli of India.

While the left hemisphere controls speech, language, writing, logic, mathematics, and science, it is the right hemisphere that controls music, art, creativity, emotions, and perception, mainly three-dimensional perception. Hence, there is higher proportion of left-handers in certain professions such as music, arts, and media in general. No wonder Leonardo Da Vinci was a lefty. Greta Garbo, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, and the greatest of them all Amitabh Bachchan are all left-handers. Bill Clinton is a left-hander too. What does he have to do with art? May be it could be one of ex American President's closely guarded secrets.

Now we know that Newton and Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Charlie Chaplin, Oprah Winfrey, and even Bill Gates are or were left-handed. This would shatter all theories of hand preference and hemisphere dominance in relation to achievements and success in life.

What matters medically is that we are not in a position to decide as to which cerebral hemisphere is dominant, based on hand preference. Hence, where temporal lobectomy is considered in epileptics and one has to determine the hemispherical dominance, that is which hemisphere controls speech, a Wada test can be done. Amytal sodium is injected into the carotid artery and this produces speech arrest for about 30 s if injected on the dominant side.

As discussed above, localization of speech centers in the right cerebral hemisphere and tends to cause stuttering, especially if dominance of the right cerebral hemisphere is impaired by an attempt to make the "right" hand the master hand. This should be brought to the notice of parents and teachers so that they do not make such attempts.

  Conclusion Top

To conclude, a lefty is not someone to be left out of reckoning; he/she is right in the middle of the race with the "righties," fighting out for his/her rightful place in the world dominated by the "right."

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Hepper P. The developmental origins of laterality: Fetal handedness. Dev Psychobiol 2013;55:588-95.  Back to cited text no. 1
Orton S. Stuttering, Brain′s Diseases of the Nervous System. 7 th ed. London W1: Oxford University Press; p. 111.  Back to cited text no. 2


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded228    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal