Saturday, January 24, 2009

The brains of southpaw presidents - on Good Morning America

Tomorrow I'll be on Good Morning America Weekend, talking with David Wright about the mysterious abundance of left-handed presidents. (Update: watch it here.) Barack Obama is left-handed - as were Bill Clinton, the first President Bush, [perhaps] Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Harry Truman. What's going on?

Sandra and I have written about this before [PDF] [annotated]. An unusual number of left-handers use both sides of their brain to process language, significantly more than the rest of the population. So one might expect enhanced communication skills in some left-handers (think of Obama, Clinton, and Reagan). There's also a tendency for left-handers to solve problems in creative ways. These could be useful traits in a president!

Air date is Sunday, near the end of the first half-hour of the program. The show's start time varies. It's mostly 8-9AM Eastern, 7-8AM Central, and 6-7AM or 7-8AM Pacific. Here's an old list of station affiliates. Check your local listings!

2 comments:

Pete said...

Hi,

Do you have solid evidence that Reagan was left-handed?

Every photo of him has him writing with his right-hand: http://images.google.com/images?q=reagan%20signing

Do you know for sure he was forced to change as a kid?

Thanks,
-Pete

Sam Wang said...

Pete, I agree regarding the photos. It is said that he was left-hand dominant as a child. However, I have not yet found any documentation of this online or in print. I am still looking.

As an aside, after looking into this I did weaken the Wikipedia entry on Reagan's hand dominance.