I found myself browsing the New Scientist website for articles relating to being left handed. I guess it’s just natural that a by-product of running a left handed guitar website is developing an interest in the reasoning behind our ‘gift’.
So following on from my article asking if numbers of left handed guitar players are increasing, this one should address the science behind why left handers in general are increasing. To quote the great Ben Affleck in his super-manly shampoo commercial…”here comes the science…”
I read many interesting articles but the point that cropped up the most was that left handed people are becoming more and more common. A study carried out by the University College London (UCL) found that the proportion of left handed people stood at just 3% of the population only 100 years ago, whereas now it has increased to 11%.
Left Handed People Were Victimized For Centuries
Professors at UCL concluded that this increase may be attributed to the style of teaching in the early 20th century where strict classroom rules forced all children to learn to write with their right-hand. Even as recently as the 1960s some schoolchildren’s left hands were tied behind their backs to ensure that they wrote with their right. Apparently lefties were also known as “gibble fists” in the 18th and 19th century and were severely discriminated against.
Older Mothers Are More Likely To Bear Left Handed Children
One professor pointed out that older women are more likely to bear left handed children. So as the age of women at childbirth increases it is logical to suggest that we should see increasing numbers of left handed children being born as well.
Hospital Scanning Technology Increases Chances of Left Handed Children
A further interesting idea I read about was that Swedish researchers have discovered that if a pregnant woman undertook an ultrasound scan, her chances of giving birth to a left handed child were raised by 30%!
If It Were Left To Nature…
One third of the chimpanzee population is left handed, so perhaps if we did not live in a world designed for rightys the human population would be more in line with the natural state of the chimps. If the chimpanzees could play guitar they’d be laughing at us human southpaws!
Are Some Righties Actually Left Handed?
Another interesting point to note is how we class someone as ‘left handed’. Why is someone who writes with their right hand..right handed? Sure I play guitar left handed and I write with my left hand but I use scissors right-handed, I shoot a bow and arrow right-handed, I use a computer mouse right-handed. Anna Salleh of ABCE Science Online says that “if we include the number of people who throw a ball, strike a match or use a pair of scissors with their left hand, the researchers say the world looks more of a left handed place.”
Evolution Results in More Left Handed People
There are scientists suggesting that our continuing evolution is introducing a rising percentage of left handed humans into the mix to correlate with what we are at the molecular level. Russian doctor Alexander Dubov claims that “the number of left handed babies that were born in 2005 doubled the amount of left handed children which saw the light in 1990“, leading him to conclude that “mankind is changing slowly” while Pyotr Chereda, a Russian scientist of anomalous phenomena, believes that right and left handers are virtually different types of people with their own special mindsets and perceptions of the world. “They get along with each other perfectly, but there is a hidden evolutionary struggle taking place between them, which reminds (me of) the struggle between primeval humans”. Chereda concludes that “the left handed people will eventually win the fight owing to their anomalous abilities.”
Chris McManus, the author of Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures, is also convinced that the proportion of left handers in human society is rising, and that this may bode well for the human species as a whole, for while left handers are disproportionately represented in the mental disabilities and physical maladies department, they also disproportionately occupy the genius spectrum, such as Einstein, Newton and Franklin.
Okay, that’s enough science for one article! Definitely a lot of interesting stuff to chew over.
But what does all this mean for us left handed guitar players? Well enlarged numbers of lefties means increased demand for southpaw guitars. Increased demand for southpaw guitars results in improved left handed guitar options from manufacturers. WIN!
In the last 10 years there has been a notable increase in choice for left handed guitar players, so if this trend continues things can only get better!
Of course there will be a short-term 2000% increase in left handed guitar players in the next year or so due to Justin Bieber stalkers learning to play lefty like him. But that’s not so much science is it…