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No. 68: Mar-Apr 1990

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Game of life favors right-handers

With condolences to our southpaw readers, things do not look too good for them.

Accidents.

"Left-handed people are almost twice as likely to suffer a serious accident as right-handers, according to a recent study. Stanley Coren, an experimental psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, claims that his finding helps to explain why less than 1 per cent of all 80year-olds are 'southpaws,' whereas they comprise nearly 13 per cent of all people aged 20."

Coren surveyed students at his University for four years and found that the probability of a left-hander having a car accident was 85% higher; accidents with tools were 54% higher; home accidents were 49% higher; etc. Coren blames these lopsided statistics upon the fact that the world is ordered for right-handers, not that left-handers are innately more clumsy.

(Dayton, Leigh; "The Perils of Living in a Right-Handed World," New Scientist, p. 32, October 28, 1989.)

But Coren's study, above, omits the "health" factor, which we now supply from a different source.

"Halpern and Coren recently described an association between lefthandedness and a lower life expectancy. This finding is not unexpected because left-handedness has been linked to three leading causes of death in our society - alcoholism, smoking, and breast cancer - as well as to several neurological and immune disorders."

(London, Wayne P.; "Left-Handedness and Life Expectancy," Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68:1040, 1989.)

From Science Frontiers #68, MAR-APR 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss