How Smart Is Your Right Foot?

Status: True
Below is an email that's going around. Maybe it's been circulating for years, but I received it for the first time today. It makes a claim that seems dubious at first. But, upon experimentation, appears to be true. At least, it's true for me. There must be a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. The question is: does it hold true for everyone? And is it possible to counteract this reflex through force of will?

This is so funny that it will boggle your mind. And you will keep trying it at least 50 more times to see if you can outsmart your foot. But you can't!!!
1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction!!!
I told you so... And there is nothing you can do about it.

Body Manipulation

Posted on Thu Oct 06, 2005


It holds true for me as well, but the simple way to counteract it is not to start at the top of the "6", but at the centre of the spiral and work outwards - that way, your foot and hand are both going clockwise, causing no problems.

Posted by Chris 'Crispy' Philpot  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  11:42 AM
yep......same here.....I don't like the fact I can't control my body...
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  02:22 PM
Well that was total bullshit. I didn't have to try it 50 times - I gave up after 17.
Posted by Blondin  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  02:54 PM
I can outsmart my foot. it took me 2 tries.
Posted by Tom  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  03:04 PM
I can do it if I do it Crisis way.....but it still doesn't help the fact that I cant the other way......
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  03:31 PM
i can outsmart my foot, but then again, i have been told im am weird anyways..its just a matter of self control
Posted by piercedfreak  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  05:24 PM
I have no problem

(it's the same as having your hands revolve in opposite directions, I never have a problem with that either, though it often takes concentration to get started)
Posted by Sharruma  in  capable of finishing a coherent  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  05:26 PM
Y'know, it's hard enough to do the circle with your foot even without moving your hand. I'd say I had the same semblance of a clockwise circle both with and without my hand drawing 6's at the same time. Which isn't saying much.

Posted by Quentin Smith  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  07:01 PM
With my right foot/right hand I did it successfully the first time, starting at the "top" of the '6', no problemo. With a little more difficulty I can even do counterclockwise and a *backwards* six with my right foot.

But I can't do it either way with my left foot/left hand.

I was born a leftie but my parents forced me to use my right hand to write; now I'm mostly right-handed but also sort of semi-ambidextrous. Maybe that's a factor?

It's also a good workout for the inner thighs!

Posted by intjudo  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  07:47 PM
It's a bit like the old "pat your head while rubbing the stomach" trick. Takes a bit of concentration to get it going correctly. But not impossible.
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  07:56 PM
I'm having a hard time believing everyone who says they can outsmart their foot. Because I'm totally unable to make the 6 without my foot jerking in the opposite direction.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  08:08 PM
Well I can pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time but I definitely can't outsmart my foot.
Posted by cjojojo  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  08:16 PM
The weird thing is, the trick doesn't work with my left foot. Bizarre.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  08:53 PM
I'm not getting this. I didn't have any trouble the first time even though I definitely started at the top of the 6 and my right foot going clockwise. I wasn't even concentrating that much. However, I can do it again and again with no problem.

Maybe i just have a messed up brain. Either that or all of you are crazy.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  09:15 PM
I can outsmart my foot, too. But I was also born a leftie. My dad is a leftie and didn't know that they were making me write with my right hand at school. So now I am also a rightie and semi-ambidextrous. It's a weird thing to live this way...I'm right brained, too, which also means I am quite a weirdo.
Posted by thephrog  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  09:47 PM
I'm only a weirdo because of being right handed and right brained...that's what I meant. Figure I better put that before I get flamed.
Posted by thephrog  on  Thu Oct 06, 2005  at  09:48 PM
After a few intermediate steps, I did it. Here's how:

First, I made a clockwise RECTANGLE with my right foot. It's 4 separate movements.

Then I made a rectangular-style "6" with my right hand.

Then I did both at the same time, synchronizing the movements.

After a couple of times, I found I was able to turn the rectangle with my right foot into a circle, and then turn the rectangular 6 into a rounded 6. Voila.
Posted by elguapo  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  04:29 AM
I'm a leftie, and the trick doesn't work with me. Tried right hand/foot, then tried left hand/foot. Didn't try to reverse them, not going to.
Posted by azog  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  05:27 AM
:-S oo.. i must be doing it wrong, i got it on the first try
Posted by lindsay  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  06:43 AM
What a load. I did it the first time. You just have to be able to move one limb clockwise while the other goes counterclockwise. 😛
Posted by Bah  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  09:08 AM
I first heard about this about three or four years ago. I had no problem doing it then, and I have no problem doing it now. The same goes for that "rubbing your belly and patting your head" thing Smerk mentioned. I suppose the really interesting thing would be to figure out why some people have trouble and some people don't. It doesn't seem to be just a matter of being right- or left-handed.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  01:09 PM
I noticed my foot trying to counteract clockwisivity (hey, got to coin a word today!) as I drew the six, but it was itself easily thwarted. But then again, I am very dextrous.
Posted by eriC draveS  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  01:44 PM
I can outsmart it pretty easily, but then again I'm a heavy metal drummer so I'm pretty well trained at separating my limbs' movements.
Posted by Span  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  02:46 PM
Wow the moment I tried it and then noticed that my foot had changed directions, I had to laugh out loud. Stupid foot!

I also am a leftie, and was able to outsmart my foot on 2nd try by really focusing. Or better put, make my consciousness shift attention back and forth, overseeing what my hand is doing, and then to my foot, and then to my hand, kind of like the 'rectangle' idea mentioned by elguapo.

This stuff is probably more mind-expanding than drugs! Fear the master of the rotating foot trick!

Posted by freakzoid  on  Sat Oct 08, 2005  at  02:17 AM
I like Bah had no trouble doing this without the effect occuring. Then again, I can do the pat your head and rub your stomach one pretty easily too, and switch rapidly.

It's probably exploiting the trend for a lot of people to favour one side of their brain than the other, and so they have trouble differentiating the movement paths involved in hand and leg motion.
Posted by DFStuckey  on  Sat Oct 08, 2005  at  03:49 AM
Bull shit. I sjckdivvck all day and this is so easy.
Posted by asshole  on  Sat Oct 08, 2005  at  09:24 AM
I'm glad some people can do it. I'm having a real hard time with it, and I can rub my belly and pat my head at the same time. At least it's apparently possible... it's kind of irritating to think you can't do it.
Posted by Reynard Muldrake  on  Sat Oct 08, 2005  at  07:31 PM
Err...I started my foot going for a good minute before making the six. I did have a little blip-pause when I started to make the six, but I did keep going clockwise with my foot. When I tried it again, and I had just been moving my foot for a few seconds before doing the 6...My foot did change directions.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Oct 09, 2005  at  05:15 AM
It is easy for me to do.
By the way I play drums, so it is not difficult for me to move arms and legs independently.
Posted by Wolfgang  on  Sun Oct 09, 2005  at  01:53 PM
It's not a problem with me, I got it on my first try and continued to be able to do it. None of my co-workers can do it though.
Posted by MatLat  on  Mon Oct 10, 2005  at  11:26 AM
haha that was so easy to counteract. it took me 2 tries.
Posted by Farkwun  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  07:37 PM
That was easy, but I was born ambidextrous, so I don't know if that helps or not.

What I could do:
-right foot circle, right hand "6"
-left foot circle, right hand "6"
-right foot circle, left hand "6"
-left foot circle, left hand "6"
Posted by Draconegia  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  04:22 PM
This is a thought: how many of the people who can do this are regular two-handed typists on the Net? The chances are that the neural pathways needed for this kind of thing build up in people who can use both hands or multi-task body functions in other ways.

It would be fascinating to see if non-geeks, er, people who don't use the computer a lot can do this with the same rate of success.
Posted by DFStuckey  on  Thu Oct 13, 2005  at  12:24 AM
This is not like the pat your head, rub your stomach thing as many people have suggested. The reason it's so difficult is the fact that your right hand and right foot both use the left half of your brain (both your left hand & foot use the right half). This causes problems when you are trying to make them do two entirely opposite motions (ie..foot turning clockwise, hand turning counterclockwise).
Posted by Nathan  on  Sat Oct 15, 2005  at  02:23 PM
I think the pattern seems to be that people who have hobbies or jobs where their feet and their hands are doing different things have no trouble with this.

My foot doesn't even have a tendancy to change directions when I start my hand. Then again, I have done 8 years of marching band, which is very much a seperation of hands (playing music) and feet (marching). Also, I've done dance with flag, so that too my hands were doing flag work, while my feet were moving me around or doing cool dance steps.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Sat Oct 15, 2005  at  11:23 PM
I found this really easy, also patting your head while rubbing your stomach is easy too. And I don't do any drumming, and i am not ambidextrous. Maybe I should start drumming or writing with my left.
Posted by Giuliano  on  Sun Oct 23, 2005  at  09:30 AM
I saw this on Discovery channel and I thought it was BS because I have no trouble doing it both clockwise and counterclockwise.

And I had no clue that patting your head while rubbing your stomach was that kind of trick, I thought it was just people acting like retards.

What's next, you can't chew gum and walk at the same time?
Posted by The joke is on you!  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  09:42 PM

I could outsmart my foot by writing "6" with my hand on a table, but not in the air. Odd.

(Inflammatory opening remark added to be cool like the other Tourette's people.)
Posted by Knarf  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  01:17 PM
this effect is due to the fact that in 95% of right handed individuals and about 75% of left handed individuals, mathamatical computations are controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, the same hemisphere that (generally) controls the right side of your body. why your foot changes directions is not known to me, but that's the general idea.
Posted by ian macinnis  on  Wed Nov 23, 2005  at  01:20 PM
Too easy.

I don't see any rule that says you can't start from the inside of the six and write it clockwise.

One of course now someone will try and change the rules mid game because they got beat.
Posted by Craig  on  Sat Nov 26, 2005  at  04:38 PM
I can do it with my right foot and hand, no problem. It was so easy, I was wondering if the whole thing was a fake. But then I tried the left side, and my foot started going side-to-side when I made the 6.
Posted by Mark  on  Wed Jan 25, 2006  at  10:26 AM
It's a matter of right-brain/left-brain connection... we had to do this in one of my classes two years ago

I used to be able to do it really well, now it takes me three or four tries... I can move my hands in opposite directions with no effort at all, but it's kinda difficult for me to do this one
Posted by kasu-chan  on  Fri Jan 27, 2006  at  08:03 PM
this was easy. my foot did not change direction. i even started at the top of the 6.
Posted by he dunnit  on  Sat Jun 10, 2006  at  10:41 AM
Seriously, if I hadn't been reading all your comments saying that your foot actually did something you didn't want it to do, I wouldn't believe it! I tried this and nothing happened for me... I mean, my foot kept going around and around as I drew the 6 a dozen times (starting at the top as you're "supposed" to). Weird. Maybe I'm a freak of nature? I wonder what it means about my brain... hmmm...
Posted by Erin  on  Sun Oct 15, 2006  at  06:24 PM
My teacher presented this challenge to my class. She said it was impossible. But, she was wrong. I CAN do this. It has to do with having very good coordination. Though, nobody else in my class, or anywhere i have tried this, can do it.
Posted by Taylor Cogsil  on  Tue Oct 24, 2006  at  08:12 PM
I can do it.

Every once in a while I have a hard time. But the majority time I can.

Who thinks of this stuff?
Posted by Carter S  on  Wed Oct 25, 2006  at  09:53 AM
You know, the numebr of people responding that they can do it strikes a chord with me . . . I could never do the "Pat head/Rub Belly" thing for years until I started doing fine manipulation like painting miniatures, drawing and typing; Maybe it is a skill that can develop with increasing fine motor skills?
Posted by DFStuckey  on  Tue Oct 31, 2006  at  07:24 PM
I think no one ever can actually do it the FIRST TIME, but once you're aware of it.....
Posted by hairymon  on  Fri Nov 10, 2006  at  01:56 PM
I had no problem from the very first try and I am not a very coordinated person (trip over my own feet, etc.) I'm going to test the people at work today.
Posted by Kim  on  Thu Dec 21, 2006  at  09:29 AM
I did it just fine over and over, no problem!
Posted by Kristi  on  Sat Jan 06, 2007  at  12:12 AM
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