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Thread: Speed Reading - Myth or Possibility?

  1. #1 Speed Reading - Myth or Possibility? 
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    Hello SF,

    I'm a young student and I've always wanted to read faster, not because I find it boring to do homework, more in the way I'm striving for knowledge. Obviously speed reading would be a great feat to have and I just wonder.

    1) Is it truly possible to learn to speed read, from reading about 250 wpm? Please only tell me if you read at high speeds and you've learnt it or had it since birth. And please, do not tell me "My friend is reading insanely fast" because that don't tell me anything at all.

    2) To what extent is it possible to read? According to wikipedia the whole speed reading thing is very unproven and mostly a myth.

    3) What books should I get? Paul Scheele? Howard Stephen Berg? Tony Buzan?

    This is most likely not the first thread of the subject but I just want to get the answers to these questions.

    Regards.


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  3. #2  
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    One time while in a bookstore I "speed read" an entire book. I was surprised about how much I picked up by basically just skimming each page. However... the book was not complicated, and the print was fairly large. I don't see how one can speed read a complicated text, like Kant, or Nietzsche, or Spinoza for example, and really get much out of it. And I don't think one can learn calculus, or complex analysis, by speed reading.

    Novels are not too complicated as far as reading goes, but I like to take my time and enjoy them.

    As to your specific questions, I'm sorry, but I'm no help because I don't know the answers.


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    If your reading must pipe through vocalization, i.e. you learned by phonics, you're screwed.

    I find I read fastest those words I've never heard in speech, and never bothered to vocalize. They're just shapes with meanings. So counter-intuitively I find technical literature a breeze to read... though I often pause to grasp a concept.

    The easiest and perhaps most effective way to increase reading speed, is to read well-written material. Good writing is fluid, plus it's structured to facilitate skimming. You want to race your bicycle then why kill yourself pedalling uphill?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    If your reading must pipe through vocalization, i.e. you learned by phonics, you're screwed.

    I find I read fastest those words I've never heard in speech, and never bothered to vocalize. They're just shapes with meanings. So counter-intuitively I find technical literature a breeze to read... though I often pause to grasp a concept.

    The easiest and perhaps most effective way to increase reading speed, is to read well-written material. Good writing is fluid, plus it's structured to facilitate skimming. You want to race your bicycle then why kill yourself pedalling uphill?
    Vocalization, is that when you sound them out to yourself or when you hear them in your head? Because I trained away speaking it out quietly in an hour when I read another book so that is no problem, but I "hear" the words in my head.

    I guess you've got a point there, just need to know the basics.
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  6. #5  
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    I heard of a simple method to completely eliminate vocalization

    Just count from one to ten while reading, either out loud or your in my mind, this eliminates vocalization since your brain can't vocalize both what you're reading at what you're counting at once
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  7. #6  
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    Yes I speed read. I've read dozens of books in a couple of months. What I do is I imagine every word in my mind as a picture and a sequence of events. What ususally happens is if the book has a good structure and rhythm you can sort of guess what is coming next, so you know the stimulus before you even get there.

    Practice it. Just remember that after 10 seconds your brain can wander off and trance out doing this. Have a quick recap at the end of each page, by quickly scanning it and key words will stick out. Out of those key words will be linked in with a key PICTURE. That picture will have attached to it other neurons from when you read from your 7+-2 short term memory which themselves will have 7+-2 pieces of information, therefore you will remember at least twice as much of the text.

    It takes time and practice, and I always make sure to slow read now and again so to give my mind a break as processing all the pages in a dashing manner can omit a lot of info.

    For example I can recap a lot of information from The Lucifer Principle. I imagine certain key points and studies, and then the picture I remember etches in more detail. For instance, there were numerous studies done on rats, when placed in an electric room two of them would either A: Give up and panic in the corner when shocked, or B: Pull the switch, the results made one more healthier.

    That makes other rat studies come to mind because of the picture NOT the text.

    Good luck.
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    Thanks for your answer and I apologize for the long time before I replied, but I have had a lot to do these past days.

    Then I see how you speed-read and how you process it and all, but what about "Photoreading"? Anyone got any experience from it?

    It seems very sketchy to open a "highway" to the unconscious and be able to recall everything you see and not only that, you read the book upside down and backwards.
    So would be great if anyone who've done the Photoreading coruse from Paul Scheele or the ZOX Brain Management Course.

    My expertise concerning the brain is very limited so I really don't know if this is possible but as I said before, it sounds sketchy at best.
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  9. #8 Speed reading is very useful ability (free online course) 
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    I read over 500 wpm with 90% comprehension. Several months ago i read 200 wpm. I think the speed reading ability is very useful. I still pracitce with free online application on the fasterreader website. There are following free online applications to increasing speed reading;

    http://www.fasterreader.eu/pages/en/field-of-view.html

    http://fasterreader.eu/pages/en/schu...to-clicks.html
    or
    http://www.fasterreader.eu/pages/en/...-of-words.html

    I suggest to start with:

    http://www.fasterreader.eu/pages/en/...ng-tester.html

    and with:

    http://www.fasterreader.eu/pages/en/text-presenter.html

    Text presenter allows set reading speed to 2000 words per minute.

    The

    http://www.fasterreader.eu/pages/en/speed-reading.html

    describes basic speed reading techniques and contains speed reading free course.
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  10. #9  
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    It works. I use it when I have volumes of material to get through and only small parts of it are meat. I use it in the boring parts of novels. It doesn't work on complicated material that requires thinking about in order to understand - well it works, but you stioll have to allow yourself to contemplate the meaning of what is written.
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  11. #10 Re: Speed Reading - Myth or Possibility? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dissolution
    Hello SF,

    I'm a young student and I've always wanted to read faster, not because I find it boring to do homework, more in the way I'm striving for knowledge. Obviously speed reading would be a great feat to have and I just wonder.

    1) Is it truly possible to learn to speed read, from reading about 250 wpm? Please only tell me if you read at high speeds and you've learnt it or had it since birth. And please, do not tell me "My friend is reading insanely fast" because that don't tell me anything at all.

    2) To what extent is it possible to read? According to wikipedia the whole speed reading thing is very unproven and mostly a myth.

    3) What books should I get? Paul Scheele? Howard Stephen Berg? Tony Buzan?

    This is most likely not the first thread of the subject but I just want to get the answers to these questions.

    Regards.
    Try this maybe you like it
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  12. #11  
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    Absolutely untrue. Speed reading is one of the most common scams, even Wikipedia confirms this.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    Absolutely untrue. Speed reading is one of the most common scams, even Wikipedia confirms this.
    Then explain to me why it works for me, several others in this thread and many millions around the planet? Do you think we are all guilty of self delusion, or victims of some giant hypnotic conspiracy?

    And while we are at it, most scams I know involve the extraction of cash from gulllible marks. I acquired my speed reading skills from free articles and library books. Please identify the scam element in that!
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    many millions around the planet? Do you think we are all guilty of self delusion, or victims of some giant hypnotic conspiracy?
    Why not? There are many scams that are officially scientifically disproven, but people still believe in them. Like homeopathy, astrology, and psychics. Also, so many people believe in religions, and use them to explain things that have a scientific explanation. It's not surprising, because the "default" thinking of average people is very flawed - this list shows this, notice that all those things apply to most people. Many scam systems abuse people's naturally biased thinking.

    While speed reading is one of the most common scams, it might still have some forms that are working. However, I've heard about the thing where you go somewhere and they teach you to speed read, and they finally "test" you, and I know it's a complete scam.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    many millions around the planet? Do you think we are all guilty of self delusion, or victims of some giant hypnotic conspiracy?
    Why not? There are many scams that are officially scientifically disproven, but people still believe in them. Like homeopathy, astrology, and psychics. Also, so many people believe in religions, and use them to explain things that have a scientific explanation. It's not surprising, because the "default" thinking of average people is very flawed - .
    I completey agree with the point I have emphasised. However, I am not an average person. I have tested the concept of speed reading and found it worked for me. I have spoken to others who have experienced the same benefit. I have had them demonstrate that ability. I am an arrogant sceptic. I would like to have demonstrated that their speed reading skills were inferior to mine. They were not (in most cases). the case is proven to my satisfaction.

    So what is it you find difficult to believe? That some people can read very fast, or that there is a system that can help people to learn to read really fast? Or something else?

    In regard to your list of cognitive biases please provide evidence, with appropriate citations to peer reviewed journals, that demonstrate that speed reading is impossible, or that training in speed reading is impossible, and the belief that it is possible is specifically related to one or more of the listed cognitive biases. If you cannot do this you might as well have linked us to a website whose title was "Sometimes people make shit up".

    Again, demonstrate in what way a system freely available and freely described in many formats constitutes a scam. You've "heard about the thing where you go somewhere and they teach you to speed read, and they finally "test" you."

    Really? You've heard about the thing! Third hand anecdotal evidence on a science forum. Very good. What will you do for an encore.

    P.S. Welcome to the forum.
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    I think one thing we'd have to define is what actually constitutes speed reading.

    I can skim and read quickly when I have to, finishing a novel in a couple hours, but I'll miss details and I don't really get the aesthetic aspects with that kind of reading. However, I'm not sure this is really speed reading, instead just picking up topics and skipping over development and picking up on conclusions, that can get you the gist of most writing.

    And it's irrefutable that reading speed can be improved, I've worked with reading to first graders and they're excruciatingly slow.
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  17. #16  
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    My point was that speed reading courses are one of the most common scams. The rest of the post explains why does my point make sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    While speed reading is one of the most common scams, it might still have some forms that are working.
    I already said that I don't know if there are working forms of speed reading. It might be a common scam, but that does not mean that it can't possibly work.

    By the way, I've heard that from a guy that is a very reliable source (unlike most people), and he said that he read it from research logs.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    By the way, I've heard that from a guy that is a very reliable source (unlike most people), and he said that he read it from research logs.
    Hearing something from a guy etc, does not constitute evidence in a discussion on a science forum. Now you might ask what evidence do I have that it works, other than my personal experience. That would be a valid question were it not for the fact that you are arguing a point outwith the mainstream. That means the responsibility for producing supporting evidence rests with you.

    Now if, in fact, your view is the mainstream then you will have no difficulty finding material to support this view and in the process make me look very foolish and earn thereby a well deserved apology.

    While I am at it I notice you have completely avoided addressing my point concerning your inclusion of the link to cognitive issues on wikipedia. Do you now accept that that link was irrelevant to your argument?
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    Most people are unreliable sources. However, he is a very reliable source, because he checks his information, and he said he saw this from research logs. So if he was not lying, then he's a reliable source. I don't see why would he lie to me, because then I just have a chance to learn about the lie, and this is not a good outcome for him, so he doesn't have to risk this by lying to me, and if he instead tells me that he doesn't know, this won't impact him negatively. Of course, most people don't think so rational and logically, but he does, and I can say this is certain. So my source is logically correct, except for the chance that I'm lying. I can't prove that I'm not lying, and I'm too lazy to look for a much stronger source (I find it kinda hard to browse research logs from Google Scholar), so I'll just go with this. Ignore it if you wish, but I'll still stand by it (by simply saying it's true).

    I think you didn't understand my point. Maybe it's my fault, because of my very bad writing style, I'm too lazy to reread everything and determine the reason. My point was that fast reading is one of the most common scams. However, this does not mean that fast reading can't exist as a non-scam form. The fact that you're seen things about fast reading from free sources confirms that it most likely has trustworthy forms. And since I know too little about it, I won't argue about it. The list I gave you was to support my statement that most of the people are incredibly biased, because it invalidates this:
    Then explain to me why it works for me, several others in this thread and many millions around the planet? Do you think we are all guilty of self delusion
    because it proves that it's not something uncommon for millions of people to believe in a scam. Of course, while it makes the argument invalid, it doesn't prove the opposite.

    I don't see where do we have different views. I agree that fast reading might exist as a non-scam. And you never said that there aren't fast reading scams.
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  20. #19 Add 
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    To add to the above argument , speed reading in most cases is a scam but people have been tested and prove to read at a abnormal speed. Take for example the savant "Kim Peek" he was able to attain information at amazing speeds. Now, again let me point out he was a "savant" not your average person. I would personally find my own level or speed of retention and continue getting better with it.

    Everybody is different. [/quote]
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    Most people are unreliable sources. However, he is a very reliable source, because he checks his information, and he said he saw this from research logs. So if he was not lying, then he's a reliable source.
    I can readily accept that he is a reliable source for you. He is not a reliable source to support your argument on an internet science forum. He is anonymous. His statements cannot be read directly. His conclusions have not been peer reviewed. He is unreliable on every count.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    . I can't prove that I'm not lying, and I'm too lazy to look for a much stronger source.
    Then don't be surprised when others choose to ignore what you are claiming. If you wish to convince others you have to put the work in, not expect them to do it for you. And if you are not especially concerned about convincing them, why would you even bother to post?




    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    . I think you didn't understand my point. Maybe it's my fault, because of my very bad writing style, I'm too lazy to reread everything and determine the reason.
    We seem to have an emerging pattern, don't we?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    My point was that fast reading is one of the most common scams.
    I understood your point fully from the outset. My point was that you offered absolutely nothing in support of your contention other than third party hearsay and that does not cut it on a science forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    The list I gave you was to support my statement that most of the people are incredibly biased, because it invalidates this:
    No. Your list was a qualitative one of the kind of biases which may effect humans. It was not a quantitative list that demonstrated that a majority of people would be subject to cognitive errors which would make them susceptible to scams.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackened
    I don't see where do we have different views. I agree that fast reading might exist as a non-scam. And you never said that there aren't fast reading scams.
    Where we differe is that you are using poorly formulated arguments immersed in wooly thinking to justify your opinions. It scarcely matters whether those opinions are right or wrong, your support for them is deficient. That is my central point.
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    Wonder if people still care about this.

    A few months ago, I actually found a nice review (published in 2002) of the studies done on speed reading. Saw this thread while I was digging but hadn't really felt compelled to post earlier, though I guess I'll post it now and fill in for Blackened.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B0080430767015606
    I
    have the full text but don't really remember where I got it for free.
    In any case, I uploaded it - here's the link.

    Indeed, just about all the extraordinary claims by your typical program are sufficiently debunked.
    You can also find more discussion on the conflict between Speed reading and scientific reading comprehension theories in the NASA study cited by the Wikipedia article.
    Last edited by Subrosian; December 11th, 2011 at 12:48 AM.
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  23. #22  
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    The paper linked by Subrosian showed that "speed reading" doesn't work for unfamiliar literature, and it could lead to lower comprehension, but it offer advantage to people who already know the materials: it allow you to skim over the familiar content and only focus on the interesting part.

    The fact is: you don't need "speed reading" to read fast. If you notice: only the first sentence in every paragraph is important, the rest is just explaination, so read all the first sentence until you finish the article, then re-read the details if you wish. This is the way most people (english people) wrote stuff, and it allow you to quickly skim the material to get the big idea before you move in to the details.

    I think the idea to force the eye movement (to allow you to "speed read") is ridiculous! This is what it says "speed reading" do.
    Last edited by msafwan; December 11th, 2011 at 03:40 AM.
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    If you're not prepared to measure in hours per page then the book probably isn't worth reading. /pithy wisdom
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  25. #24  
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    Speed reading is possible, but within definite limits. Most of it is just practise. The person who reads a lot will end up reading faster. There are techniques, but they usually lead to loss of detail in what you read. In addition, the faster you read, the less you retain. There are no miracles. Just good sense.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Speed reading is possible, but within definite limits. Most of it is just practise. The person who reads a lot will end up reading faster. There are techniques, but they usually lead to loss of detail in what you read. In addition, the faster you read, the less you retain. There are no miracles. Just good sense.
    Exactly. I've had 2 personal experiences. As a kid I was one of those photographic memory types - if I hesitated to remember something I'd read I would picture the page in my head and "read" it. The main problem it created was that I persisted trying to do this long after the ability had evaporated. And anyway, I suspect that this is related more to memory ability than to reading skill.

    The second issue is practice. As an adult, I had a period of several weeks of enforced inactivity. People very generously lent me books or went to the library to pick up more. But I was reading 5, 6 or 7 books a day, not all of them novels. They had trouble keeping up. I started out as a fast reader. The more I read the faster I got.

    The best way to get better, faster, more accurate with any task - just practise. Diverting yourself with trying to find tricks and shortcuts is exactly that - diverting yourself.

    I think the advice above was useful. Practise with well-written material, preferably on topics you like or are familiar with. (Just as a sport or music coach would get you to improve technique or stamina or whatever by staying within your achieved level and developing from there.) Think about how much time you put in to reading. If you're doing less than an hour a day, you're probably not practising enough to improve your skills.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    I have been trained in one of those reading courses. It happened years ago. But when the title of this thread reminded me I remembered the techniques and "speed read' the thread. I observed that what I did was be concious of the time it was taking to read and try to go faster. I held my head still and moved only my eyes. I made a conscious effort to 'see' a half to a third of each line of text as a block or unit and to move on as soon as I understood what it signified. I focused on reading for data not words. The smallest unit of text I delt with was the phrase. Generally I forced myself to look at the begining of each line of text and then jump to the end. I would only focus on the middle of a line if something did not make sense. Speed reading does work but it is work. That is, it takes effort and is not recreational.
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    Sealeaf, that reminds me. It came home to me quite forcibly one day when talking about reading newspapers. It turned out I was the only one in the group who read down a standard newspaper column, rather than word by word or phrase by phrase.

    Of course modern newspapers use a greater variety of formats nowadays, but if you do come across a piece presented that way, see if you can read it downwards rather than across each line.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    I've heard, from a source I find reliable, that speed reading ultimately comes down to skimming.
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  30. #29 Speed Reading 
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    What is funny is I used speed reading to read these posts. Quantime explained the difference between subvocal linear reading and visual vertical reading. I learned from Evelyn Wood's course (I didn't physically take it, I read an e-book based off her techniques, as well as two others.)

    Now I know my following statements may seem as if I am wasting your time, it just happens, trust that my knowledge can make you feel more empowered. You shouldn't take what I say word for word because I just finished speed reading these three books I am going to share knowledge from with all of you.

    Here are the facts about speed reading:

    1. Reading a fiction book will "appear" easier and more fluid than a non-fiction book.
    Elaboration: The amount of words you read per minute means nothing, unless you can retain the same or a higher percentage of the material. With fiction books you do NOT need to know every collar picking detail, it is the story that matters, not to mention more fiction books will not be scoured for facts, statistics, definitions of words, etc. With non-fiction regardless of Subvocal Linear reading (Voice in the head, lines from left to right *Which the limit for this method is 900 words per minute...yeah get that! (Use your finger to trace so you don't regress...uhhh duh!) or Visual-Vertical reading...so why can I make such a bold statement... Does anybody know what mnemonics is? Basically consider it methods of memory...Obviously if anyone knows the proper memory techniques, they should know it is based on visualization... I won't go into detail...if you study memory techniques you may have this simple epiphany... Visualization....connected to....Visual Vertical Reading...huh, interesting!

    Ok now so other important aspects to know about speed reading...

    2. There is a Multiple Reading Process, 5 phases, the most important is the overview.
    Elaboration: Once again I will tie this into the memory technique...(*Oh no not again!*) Understand (I have to state it again) retention is everything! BEFORE you jump into a non-fiction book (textbook, biography, etc.) there is what is called an overview phase...I don't personally follow everything Evelyn Wood's course teaches, however; the general idea is to find the gestalt of what you are reading... This is understanding the important concept(s) of what you are reading. Do not forgot to ask yourself (write it down!) what you want out of this book!!!!! That is the most important thing to do before reading any book..well make sure you are interested in learning whatever it is. Speed reading, for maximum retention, is a 5 phase process, Overview (go over the book, 1 second per page, pull important key words), Preview (2 seconds per page, more keywords, general concepts,[Eveyln Wood says details...I think that would take a lot of work to achieve at that speed), Reading (whatever you are slightly less comfortable with), Postview (pretty sure it is mind mapping...I may be wrong), Review (Comparing your mind maps with the material you read, I may be wrong again) I don't fully follow the 5 phases...I just extract the knowledge I need..mind map it, then go back and check it. Mind-mapping is writing down the keywords in a "peacock" sort of way to trigger your memories of the read material...anyway...whew.... Regardless if you apply all phases of Speed Reading you will spent a lot less time than that guy reading one line from left to right at a time.





    3. Peripherals are everything!
    Elaboration: I thought this would have been discussed...do you concentrate on one word only? Well you can do better...much better. So I know what the next question from everyone reading is.... "How do you train your peripherals?"...Just focus on an object and try to see everything in your peripheral vision without diverting your eyes from the focused "object". The idea is to not have the focused object become blurred with the rest of your peripheral vision. The next question's answer: The idea of visual-vertical reading is to let your eyes "compute" the reading material, not a voice inside your head...Think about it, you are subject to however fast you can manipulate your voice inside your head... ( I got it to 600 words a minute from 270 with 10 minutes of practice using the....Hand Tracing method!...who would have thought). Back to visual vertical reading...a method I employ is to keep the book at arms length...the smaller the text appears, The more I can see! I try to see the entire line at a time, I go with that down at about 10-20 seconds a page [Note my last test was 1,020 words per minute (and it is a down estimate)...I can't measure the comprehension rate...but I created the memories in my head after I completed the chapter...believe me I didn't miss any of the important information! (The book is "Power Up Your Brain". Just in case anyone was wondering...not too difficult of a read for me.) So now continuing... Starting with seeing an entire line (usually the outside words are kind of blurry, I can pass them over unless it is an important term), only one line at a time (this is my warm up), when I am ready to push myself I shoot for 2 lines....If I ever lose concentration I can do an "S" glance over the paragraph and pick up what I need.


    Ok well that is enough for now too tired.
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  31. #30  
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    Peer review studies showing reading speed? comprehension? Reading stance?
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    Hmm.. I'd say Speed Reading with a relatively decent retention/comprehension is possible. One method I've heard of the most is a kind of Top-Bottom process. You don't actually read every word. You read specific words, and through top-bottom processing (conceptual processing) you'll automatically 'fill in the blanks'.
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  33. #32 You can learn to read faster if you read whole thoughts rather than individual words. 
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    I think this question of whether speed reading is a scam, has been somewhat complicated by the different definitions people apply to the term 'speed reading'. Really... how fast is 'speed' reading? In fact even just the word 'read' is hard to pin down. Sometimes when people say 'read' they only mean converting text into sound. If that's true, I could say that I can read Spanish (which I can't), just because I can pronounce the words.

    But phonics is not reading. I think when we say 'reading' we should be specifically talking about 'understanding' written ideas. Therefore the question really should be, can we understand faster? I'm not trying to nitpick this, but I always think the first step to answering any question is to be sure we know what the question is. So if the goal is to understand faster, then we should pay attention more to understanding the thoughts we are reading, rather than the sounds the words make.

    And thoughts are usually longer than single words. This means we need to look at how words fit together into whole 'thought-units' as they're called, and try to imagine or visualize what each thought means. I don't know if you can reach savant speeds by reading thought-units, but someone who reads about 200wpm, can probably learn to read 500-600wpm this way... which isn't bad.

    Check www.readspeeder.com for an interesting (and free) way to learn to do this. I think you'll find this is really something very different than other speed reading courses.
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  34. #33  
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    Of course understanding. Much reading, such as what some call eferent stance reading, doesn't convert into any inner voice.

    Again studies......?
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  35. #34  
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    You don't actually read every word.
    Nobody does. At least people who've learnt to read. It's one of the reasons why proof reading is so hard. Most of us just don't notice when words are duplicated or missed - especially in our own writing.

    (Proof reading tip. To avoid your eyes being fooled by the fact you know what's supposed to be there, go backwards. Not the words, the document. Read the last sentence first. Then the one before that, and so on. It slows you down tremendously, because there's no flow of ideas. You will pick up duplications, misspelt words, strange punctuation - far more often than you would if you skimmed through it the normal way.)

    And that's why technical books and textbooks are much harder to read. Because there's nothing natural to you in the words used and the ideas are new as well, so the reading just doesn't flow in the usual way. You have to read every word. You often have to go back and reread a paragraph. A year or so later, when you're more competent in the topic, and you use the vocabulary yourself, articles, papers and books about the subject will seem quite easy.

    And remember, knowing every word does not mean that you will understand the meaning. Just look at children who are still learning. They can sometimes read aloud quite confidently. But their understanding is about as good as your own might be if you knew how to pronounce the words of an unfamiliar language without speaking it fluently. You can entirely miss the meaning of a sentence, or whole paragraphs, if you read only the words.
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    A couple of years ago I ran across a study of people's ability to move and refocus their eyes - how fast they could look at a series of objects at various positions in their field of view. The factoid I recall is that this glance shift speed varies a great deal between people, and does not respond readily to such training as has been attempted (the context was evaluation of football quarterbacks, predicting which ones could handle the quicker pro game). The unusual range of variation - almost unique among measured physiological variables in human beings, an order of magnitude greater than the human range of running speed or height, much greater than the ranges of reaction and reflex time, etc - was remarked upon in the article.

    Some people are probably limited by that, in reading speed - if it is so that this glance shift speed does not improve with training, that might explain inconsistent results in speed reading training.
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  37. #36 efferent vs. aesthetic stances, and eye movements 
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    Linx_Fox: Yes, what I am suggesting is similar to an efferent stance, but I think it's more than a stance, but a type of metacognitive process where the reader uses concentration and visualization to attempt to enter something of a hyperfocus state. My understanding of efferent vs. aesthetic stances is that these have more to do with the reader's objective; such as information gathering vs. writing appreciation.

    I think that even if a person is reading in an efferent stance, that is to say, reading to learn something, they still may not be adequately concentrating on conceptualizing the ideas they read. This can lead to a loss of concentration and allow their mind to wander, and therefore miss much of the meaning of what they have supposedly 'read'.

    But concentrating on conceptualizing and visualizing will encourage the reader to pay more attention to the meaning. Concepts are the real essence of the thoughts. I believe it's what's left when you think of something without naming it. It may be how a deaf person reads-- no sound, only ideas.

    Visualizing whole thought-units, puts more attention on the meaning, and also discourages the reader from reading past something they didn't understand enough to visualize. I have found that upon visualizing concepts of thought-units, your mind feels like it enters an altered state, where sounds disappear, and a movie begins to play in your head. You still enjoy the writing style, and this is not skimming, but it is reading thoughts rather than words.

    icearua: I've heard of studies like this which equate eye movement, and eye-span with reading speed, but I think if attention is not paid to which word-groups are actually read at each saccade, such studies can not be used to prove any reading limitations. Only meaningful groups of words can be easily understood at a glance. Reading just a random part of a sentence is just as hard as reading a random group of letters would be. I believe that this is a flaw in these studies which accounts for their inconsistent results.

    This is why I developed this method of displaying meaningful thought-units. I think it is the best way to break out of word-by-word reading which many people have been stuck with since their phonics training. I do not know if this method has been suggested before but I have never heard of it. I am not in the position to know for sure. I am only a retired engineer who has always been frustrated with his slow reading speed and wandering attention span. But as an engineer, I am used to thinking of things conceptually in order to problem solve. I think this is what lead me to this solution. And fom the comments by users of readspeeder, it seems to have been very helpful to others.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to discuss this with you. I appreciate any responses which may help me better explain this so I can come up with more of a shorter 'elevator pitch'. Sorry for the length of this response--hopefully you're a fast reader. If not...
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    I agree that there might be websites and methods that train speed reading might be a scam, but I'm currently reading "break through rapid reading" which is somewhat of an exercise book that you do specific exercises for speed and comprehension. You read another book while going through the specific exercises. Now although I'm only 1 week into the exercises which are set up as daily lessons, I'm actually pretty impressed with my own improvements of speed and comprehension. I was really skeptical when I took this out from the library, but I figured I'm not putting up any cash so I'd keep an open mind and give it a try.

    Now I started off at the lower end of the scale for reading, and a few points less, the book would have recomended that I not take on learning to speed read untill I get more practice in. (180 words per minute). After a week of drills and practice I'm starting to see remarkable improvements. I'm impressed that after a week I'm actually quite close to 400 words per minute and I'm more impressed with how much information I'm actually absorbing at those speeds. Now that said, you really have to keep an open mind. The lessons seem really easy, and I was really doubting how they would actually be effective. I decided to put some trust into the methods, as rediculous and repeditive as they sounded and I'm glad that I did.

    Eliminating subvocalisation is challenging but seems to have made the biggest improvement to my speed so far. Reading with your finger for EVERYTHING seems to be the books main mantra, but I'm impressed with the effectiveness and efficiency of the method. Now it's still early in my progress, but I have to say that for the noel that I am using as my practice book, I can't get over how my reading speed is improving and with very little trouble.

    I wonder if other programs would offer the same results. if you are curious, but are worried about putting money into something that you have doubts about, I'd sudgest searching this book at your local library. I've been putting about a half an hour a day before bed doing the exercises and so far, my doubts have been extinguished, and I'm excited to see how much faster I can read and comprehend information.

    I'd say if you are interested in trying speed reading out, but have doubts, hit up your library for "break through rapid reading" or books like that. No sense in spending money when you don't have to.
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  39. #38  
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    Speed reading is the use of metacognitive strategies to skim through text really efficiently. It's an extremely useful skill, but shouldn't be overrated. I only speed read when I really just want to get reading something finished — like for a school assignment.
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  40. #39  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dissolution View Post
    Hello SF,

    I'm a young student and I've always wanted to read faster, not because I find it boring to do homework, more in the way I'm striving for knowledge. Obviously speed reading would be a great feat to have and I just wonder.

    1) Is it truly possible to learn to speed read, from reading about 250 wpm? Please only tell me if you read at high speeds and you've learnt it or had it since birth. And please, do not tell me "My friend is reading insanely fast" because that don't tell me anything at all.

    2) To what extent is it possible to read? According to wikipedia the whole speed reading thing is very unproven and mostly a myth.

    3) What books should I get? Paul Scheele? Howard Stephen Berg? Tony Buzan?

    This is most likely not the first thread of the subject but I just want to get the answers to these questions.

    Regards.
    Sorry, didn't read through everyone's posts, but your questions were personal so I hope that's okay.

    Yes, speed reading is most definitely possible. It takes intention though. You don't just magically speed read, just like you don't just magically reed. You don't have to be taught how either. Just practice on everything you read and in a few months you should be coming along.

    Best tips I've had are the following: Don't move your tongue while reading, try to visualize the words at images, try to take in a couple words at a time, then a line, then a couple lines, and so on, try not to be caught on things, don't stop on words you don't know, don't stop on paragraphs you don't understand.

    I think it's actually an incredibly useful skill that will boost regular reading speed and comprehension. Look at non-English languages where words are actually pictures. I can read a book written by someone in Taiwan, Guangdong, Sichuan, or Beijing, just by learning a bunch of pictures. I don't have to pronounce the words, I just have to comprehend the meaning (try speaking to all of those people directly and see how far you get). Think of English the same way. The words are pictures, filled with meaning. Often times the meaning of a word, sentence, or paragraph does not become clear until you have read further so speed reading teaches you to relax while you read, and not get caught up on things. I speed read almost all of the books I read unless it's something I'm very familiar with and want to write notes on things as I go.

    A couple other useful reading tips that I think go with speed reading. Skim the table of contents and the index to familiarize with words and subjects you may run into (just like advertising, the more you see it the more likely you will think about it). When you begin a section or chapter of a book, skim through all the titles names of the individual essays and so on, literally one page at a time, but quickly. Think of the book as a single piece that you can later disassemble if you like it. (This would actually be the preferred method of memorizing a work as well, first familiarize with the subject matter and titles, then individual essays, paragraphs, sentences, words, and before you know it you can recite the Bible from memory. That's sort of a joke.)

    Lastly, do some eye exorcises. Rolling in circles, side to side, up and down, focused and unfocused, rest (imagine blackness). Try to let the eyes relax while speed reading so you can see more.

    I tried speed reading for a while but wasn't completely convinced until a few years back when I was doing an intensive history of Asia course at a University. It was a book a week, plus news articles, notes, and essay writings. I slowly got more and more behind and finally had one evening to read the last book. I was reading that book paragraphs at a time, and I know because I actually really liked it and discussed it the next day in class.

    I actually think speed reading is underrated. I think the strategies I've just mentioned actually help one to achieve greater variety and comprehension. Again, think about reading in a second language, and imagine how you would never read anything because you'd have to stop on every other word. Actually, speed reading I think is just advanced reading, which I think some may have already stated. You learn to read the ideas, images, tones, etc. rather than the individual words. Some writing is also just easier to read. I always thought reading Thoreau was like licking warm chocolate chip mint ice cream: smooth, cool, with small sweet and crunchy pieces.
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