Social media posts have for years spread a spurious statistic — the claim that 2,500 left-handed people die every year in accidents while using equipment designed for right-handed people. Here is an example of one such post spreading the claim, from 2014:
Although we were unable to locate the original source for the claim, the website Unbelievable Facts in 2015 basically claimed the same thing, citing a 1989 paper titled “Left-Handedness and Accident-Related Injury Risk,” by Stanley Coren, an author and psychology professor at the University of British Columbia.
It seems to make sense, on the surface, that in a world built for right-handed people, a left-handed minority forced to adapt might be more accident prone. Left-handed people make up about 10 to 12 percent of the population, and items from cars to can openers are made with the comfort and functionality of the right-handed majority in mind. But the paper doesn’t state that 2,500 left-handed people die as a result, and we didn’t find any research supporting that claim.
In the paper abstract, Coren notes that, “Self-reported injuries among left-handed and right-handed people were compared in a survey of 1,896 college students in British Columbia, Canada.” Left-handed college students were more likely to report having an injury that required medical attention over the course of two years, with the highest likelihood reported among men who said the injury occurred while driving.
The paper doesn’t give a figure for deaths — it relies on self-reporting about past injuries by a fairly limited group, namely college students in British Columbia.
We note that the claim that “2,500 left-handed people die every year” due to accidents from using equipment made for right-handed people appears a case of copypasta — a meme that spreads online by way of internet users copying and pasting text, which is often removed of its original context.
In this case, the claim is being spread via social media posts with no accompanying information stating whether the figure is global or specific to a certain region, or whether it’s specific to a certain time period, field of labor, etc.
The claim reflects a scientific debate that occurred toward the end of the 20th century about whether being left-handed was linked to mortality.
In 2017, Snopes debunked a pervasive myth that left-handed people have, on average, shorter life spans than their right-handed peers. That rumor was based on a 1991 study that used a flawed methodology.
“15 Lesser-Known Facts About Left-Handed People.” Unbelievable Facts, 12 Mar. 2016, https://unbelievable-facts.com/2016/03/facts-about-left-handed-people.html.
Kasprak, Alex. “Do Left-Handed People Die Younger Than Right-Handed People?” Snopes.com, 8 March 2017, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/left-hand-right-hand-death/. Accessed 18 May 2022.
Huberman, Bond and David Emery. “Snopestionary: What Is Copypasta?” Snopes.com, 19 Sept. 2021, https://www.snopes.com/articles/369246/what-is-copypasta/.
Coren, Stanley. “Left-Handedness and Accident-Related Injury Risk.” The National Center for Biotechnology Information, 1989, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1349905/pdf/amjph00234-0096.pdf
Gigante, Shelly. “Lefties: Fact vs. fiction.” MassMutual blog, 12 Aug. 2021, https://blog.massmutual.com/post/left-handers-day