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Lefties unite: It's International Left-handers Day

An estimated 10 percent of the global population is left-handed.
By Aileen Graef Follow @AileenGraef Contact the Author   |   Aug. 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Lefties are celebrating for the 22nd annual International Left-handers Day on Aug. 13, an event meant to celebrate their unique way of handling life.

An estimated 10 percent of the global population is left-handed. The uncommon trait is a result of the brain being divided into two hemispheres, controlling the different sides of the body. Although the reason behind why people show preferred handedness is still unknown, scientists believe it is genetic but haven't been able to link it to a specific gene.

The world is molded for right-handed people, forcing lefties to overcome some difficult obstacles. Scissors, desks, notebooks, computers and everyday objects tend to favor the right-handed population. Until recently, they were often forced to "correct" their handedness. In some countries, it is still a practice due to cultural reasons.

In spite of the challenges they often face, being a lefty does have some perks. They are more likely to come out on top in a fight because opponents are less likely to expect a punch coming from the left field. They also use their brains differently, which can lead them to become more creative since they use more of both hemispheres than their right-handed counterparts.

Left-handed people are in good company. Eight U.S. presidents in the 20th century are, or were, left-handed. The list includes current President Barack Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Herbert Hoover and James Garfield. The group is also joined by billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, scientist Marie Curie, and philosopher Aristotle.

Lefties are known to leave an impression. French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Queen Josephine, were also left-handed. There is a legend that they forced the civilians of the countries Napoleon conquered to switch hands, creating the habit of driving on the left in certain countries.

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