By indexer
2 years ago

Left-handed? That doesn't mean an earlier grave!

Being left-handed, I had rather got used to the idea that I was fated to die nine years earlier than if I had been right-handed. This is a statistic that has being going the rounds for so long that it has become something of a “given” – you’re left-handed, you won’t live as long, get over it.

The reasons why this is the case have not always been made clear, but I gathered that it had something to do with our general clumsiness as left-handers, plus the fact that, in a right-handed world, we are statistically more likely to suffer fatal accidents when we try to use right-handed things in a left-handed way. At least, I think it was something along those lines.

However, those fears are now all in the past because it has been revealed that the “nine years less life” statistic is a load of tosh! There is absolutely nothing to worry about if you are left-handed because somebody simply misread the stats and came up with a bogus bit of modern folklore.

Our “saviour”, if that is the right word, is Professor Chris McManus of University College, London, who is the author of “Right Hand, Left Hand”, in which he debunks the “nine years” myth.

The problem arose because the original research (by Diane Halpern and Stanley Coren) did not take all the relevant factors into consideration. In the late 1980s they looked at 2,000 people who had died recently in southern California and then asked their relatives whether those people had been left- or right-handed.

What they neglected to take on board was that, 70 or 80 years previously when many of those people would have been born, there was considerable pressure on children who were naturally left-handed to become right-handed, especially for handwriting. Their younger relatives would not have known that they were really left-handed. However, as the century progressed there was much less pressure to switch and more left-handers behaved in left-handed ways.

What this means statistically is that, given that some people die at younger ages than others, there would be a higher proportion of left-handers as against right-handers in the “died young” group, but not so in the “died old” group, although the actual numbers of natural left-handers may well have remained proportionately the same across the whole timeframe.

The researchers calculated that the average difference in age of death as between left- and right-handers was nine years. This is a huge difference, and one that should have alerted them to look again at the figures and ask themselves if there could be a statistical reason for this. However, they did not, and the myth was born.

I shall therefore go on being happily left-handed and, if I die nine years before I’m supposed to, at least I’ll know that my caggy-handedness is not the reason why!
2 years
frenchqueen Was never aware of it but my father was left handed and he died at the age of 44. But he was murdered so I don’t think that counts. My sister is left handed Too. She’s 45 now.
2 years
2 years
indexer @frenchqueen I'm sorry to hear about your father.

So far, I have made it to 66!
2 years
2 years
Shavkat Nice article
2 years