“Though left-handers comprise just 10% of the population, they are dominating presidential politics.” The media finally catch up to “The Monkey Cage.”

by Lee Sigelman on June 25, 2008 · 2 comments

in Campaigns and elections,Frivolity



Back in February, I posted on the left-handedness of recent presidents, here. That posting captured the fancy of the entire nation—well, maybe not, but it did spark an unusually high number of responses (some speculative, some research-based, some confessional, as in “I’m left-handed”).

Now that both the Democrats and the Republicans have done the right thing (er, the left thing) by naming portsiders Obama and McCain as their presidential candidates, the media are beginning to catch up to “The Monkey Cage,” as evidenced by this newspaper story.

The story quotes Daniel Geschwind, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at UCLA, to the effect that left-handers’ tendency toward bilateral brain function could enable them to visualize problems more broadly and with more complexity and could relate to the social and interactive skills needed to be successful in politics.

That’s pretty speculative, but the story goes on to note one well-established difference between left-handers and right-handers. According to Amar Klar, a scientist at the National Cancer Institute, “Handedness is related to the way the hair spins on the back of your head.” The whorl for right-handers curls clockwise in 92% of cases. In left-handers, the distribution is random, with half exhibiting a clockwise whorl and the other half spinning counterclockwise. (Sort of like toilets flushing counterclockwise in Australia, I guess.) The relevance of the whorl phenomenon to presidential politics is not immediately apparent, but perhaps one of the new generation of political scientists studying the physiological bases of political behavior can forge the link.

P.S. I know of no evidence that Bob Barr is left-handed, but it really doesn’t matter.

UPDATE: In response to popular demand (see the comments below), I launched an extensive research effort to find an answer to the vital question of “Is Ralph Nader left-handed?” Here’s what I found in my landmark three-second Google search:


[Hat tip to Erik Voeten]


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