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  #1  
Old 21 March 2007, 09:22 PM
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Read This! Speed-reading myth shattered

A new research has shattered the myth of speed reading by proving that the construction of the eyes is such that it only allows them to focus on one small area on the page at a time, thus making speed reading impossible.

http://www.dailyindia.com/show/12720...myth-shattered
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  #2  
Old 21 March 2007, 09:28 PM
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So when I scan the page quickly and then answer questions about what I read, what in the name of all that is holy to catfish am I doing?
edit: My eyes probably move slighlty without me knowing, Hmmmmm.
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  #3  
Old 21 March 2007, 09:40 PM
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Researchers say that although you might have the illusion that you see the whole page, you can actually only see small groups of letters at the point where your eyes are focused.
I don't recall ever seeing this definition of speed reading. The Wikipedia page on the subject describes one speed reading method as being based on guiding the movement of your eyes along the page, which clearly involves not looking at the whole thing at once, and I see nothing there claiming that any method is based on viewing the whole page.

Last edited by Traveler in Black; 21 March 2007 at 09:40 PM. Reason: small clarification
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  #4  
Old 22 March 2007, 12:17 AM
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"Speed reading" is merely sampling the information by reading parts of the text and not reading parts of the text. It's nothing more than skimming.

This isn't entirely an invalid way to take in information! You can experimentally verify this: take a novel you have never read, and read only the odd-numbered pages. Wait a day or two, and then read the whole novel. You will find that you really did get a very solid and clear grasp on the principle events, plotlines, and themes of the novel, even after discarding 50% of it!

Silas
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Old 22 March 2007, 12:47 AM
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Yes, but the parts of the text you are not reading are easily reconstructed by your mind based on the bits you do read. It is not like you skip sentences. You are only skipping unnecessary parts of speech that are directly implied by context.
Anyway, it is kind of ego-building to think that I taught myself to do the impossible.
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Old 22 March 2007, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
"Speed reading" is merely sampling the information by reading parts of the text and not reading parts of the text. It's nothing more than skimming.

This isn't entirely an invalid way to take in information! You can experimentally verify this: take a novel you have never read, and read only the odd-numbered pages. Wait a day or two, and then read the whole novel. You will find that you really did get a very solid and clear grasp on the principle events, plotlines, and themes of the novel, even after discarding 50% of it!

Silas

That's how I read. Only, I don't read filler words-like "the" or "and" etc.

Morrigan
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  #7  
Old 22 March 2007, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
Yes, but the parts of the text you are not reading are easily reconstructed by your mind based on the bits you do read. It is not like you skip sentences. You are only skipping unnecessary parts of speech that are directly implied by context.
Anyway, it is kind of ego-building to think that I taught myself to do the impossible.
Exactly. I don't think it's anything that special. Certainly not impossible. At any rate, I will say that the human mind is pretty darn nifty.
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  #8  
Old 22 March 2007, 02:02 AM
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Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
Yes, but the parts of the text you are not reading are easily reconstructed by your mind based on the bits you do read. It is not like you skip sentences. You are only skipping unnecessary parts of speech that are directly implied by context.
Anyway, it is kind of ego-building to think that I taught myself to do the impossible.
Exactly; common language has redundancies, and is far from a minimum-information communication channel.

Now...try to do this with a compressed data file, and you will find yourself disappointed... (And even that isn't completely impossible!)

Silas
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Old 25 March 2007, 04:52 PM
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I'd just love to get my hands on that author and have them tell me how then, that I read over 1000 wpm and retain it.
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  #10  
Old 25 March 2007, 08:12 PM
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I'd just love to get my hands on that author and have them tell me how then, that I read over 1000 wpm and retain it.
No one is disputing retention, only actual perception. You "speed read" by not actually reading the entire text. There is no reason to believe that you fail to retain what portions of it you have actually read.

Reading comprehension is also a vital part of good reading.

Silas
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  #11  
Old 26 March 2007, 02:58 PM
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I speed-read some Poe crime stories at the weekend. By modern standards, Poe is so verbose that it is easy to skim/speed read. Verbose authors with redundant content - easy to speed read as they are over-explaining things. Terse authors with minimal redundancy - probably harder as you risk missing vital content.
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  #12  
Old 26 March 2007, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by llewtrah View Post
I speed-read some Poe crime stories at the weekend. By modern standards, Poe is so verbose that it is easy to skim/speed read. Verbose authors with redundant content - easy to speed read as they are over-explaining things. Terse authors with minimal redundancy - probably harder as you risk missing vital content.
Fascinating! My own experience (entirely subjective, please note!) has been the opposite. To me, it has always seemed that Poe secretes a tiny kernel of meaning in the midst of a vast surrounding of verbiage -- so that, if you don't read each sentence with great care, you might miss the nugget of value entirely!

(Again, I feel compelled to say that I am not gainsaying you, as this is only a subjective impression I have, with no hard data to back it up.)

By the way, I have also always felt that Poe is best read while one is ill, and the worse the illness, the better: Poe is at his most eerie and wondrous when you are deep in the throes of febrile delirium!

Silas (weak and weary)
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  #13  
Old 26 March 2007, 11:51 PM
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In my view reading is like listening, people assume that both are linear - that is they occur one thing at a time as in: you - hear - or - read - a - word - and - understand - it - and - then - put - it - with - the - other - words - to - comprehend - the - idea.

What happens in practice though is that we sample words and using context and anticipated meaning, and then build our understanding wholistically. As Silas points out you can read half a book and understand the whole quite readily but more commonly we read half the words - skimming for key ideas seeking core words indicative of the central themes and flow of thought.

Example: With my poor hearing (even with strong hearing aids) I get accused of not hearing things I don't want to hear. This is because, as with reading, I sample verbal communication - I listen for key words using context and other clues to help me fill in the ideas people are trying to put forward. Mostly I only 'hear' 30% of the sounds - the rest is inferred and deduced. When therefore someone says something I am not expecting - or completely off the topic - I am often at a loss, my 'hearing' stops and I say "I'm sorry, could you repeat that" or else I simply process it incorrectly.

I think the same is true for speed readers - they read only 30% of the text but are very adept at communication and have a sensitivity to flows and patterns of text that allows them too effectively process and understand the material. its the difference between 'reading' and 'comprehending' - perhaps we should now simply refer to them as speed comprehenders.

Dropbear
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  #14  
Old 27 March 2007, 02:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Dropbear View Post
. . . Example: With my poor hearing (even with strong hearing aids) I get accused of not hearing things I don't want to hear. This is because, as with reading, I sample verbal communication - I listen for key words using context and other clues to help me fill in the ideas people are trying to put forward. Mostly I only 'hear' 30% of the sounds - the rest is inferred and deduced. When therefore someone says something I am not expecting - or completely off the topic - I am often at a loss, my 'hearing' stops and I say "I'm sorry, could you repeat that" or else I simply process it incorrectly. . . .
I come from a family with hearing problems...my papa was durned near stone deef in his declining years, and I'm following in his path... The fun part (sometimes hilarious!) is when one processes information incorrectly, and extrapolates in error. Actually, one of the funniest Thanksgiving Dinners of my life was when my little sister had laryngitis. Given that pops had trouble hearing even norming speech... Well, the results can only be dreamed of...

"It sure is a lovely evening."
"Coming right up! Do you want cream or sugar with it?"

Beyond just telling a funny story, it occurs to me to wonder: we are all familiar with this kind of errors in filling in mis-heard words, but it rarely seems to happen that we fill in mis-read words in quite so absurd a fashion. Could it be that printed matter has more error-correcting redundancy built in than spoken language?

Silas ("What we have here is failure to communicate.")
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Old 27 March 2007, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
Beyond just telling a funny story, it occurs to me to wonder: we are all familiar with this kind of errors in filling in mis-heard words, but it rarely seems to happen that we fill in mis-read words in quite so absurd a fashion. Could it be that printed matter has more error-correcting redundancy built in than spoken language?

Silas ("What we have here is failure to communicate.")
I think it does - for four reasons:
1. You can very quickly visually re-skim a written word but must ask someone to repeat a spoken one or else consciously rewind the conversation.
2. The wriiten word has visual grammatical cues that the spoken word does not (although it does lack sometimes in the ability to emphasise or stress words subtly as we have noted on the board).
3. Speech tends to be more directly connected to the stream of consciousness and therefore tends to meander and segue into different directions more frequently - try reading a direct transcription of a taped conversation and you'll see what I mean.
4. The act of writing tends to clarify thinking and encourages people to edit and reframe and formalise their words.*

Dropbear

*One of the problems we have with new workers in child protection is that they tend to want to rewrite conversations they've had with clients to the extent they miss out key information or give the client a voice that isn't theirs eg: Client says- "you f...ing c..t, just f.. off or I'll f...ing kill you" is put down on paper as 'the client used abusive words including a threat of bodily harm'. While it is broadly correct it lacks immediacy or accuracy and could be interpreted in a very wide range of ways by the court or by other officers and is therefore not useful.
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  #16  
Old 27 March 2007, 05:35 AM
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I had a friend who could read pretty fast. She read a book that took me two days or so in about half a day (and I'm pretty notorious for being a quick reader myself). I think she might have been using a technique similar to the OP, but I'm not sure. When she returned the book I asked her if she thought character X was the one being referenced in the title of the next book in the series. She said, "but character X is dead." She missed the big part about him escaping to safety at the end of the book. After that, I realized I didn't have to be jealous about her speed anymore.
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  #17  
Old 28 March 2007, 06:21 PM
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I read really quickly, but that can sometimes be problematic. Sometimes, especially when I'm tired, I will skip whole paragraphs or lines, but I don't realize it (because i get easily distracted) until I encounter a reference to that paragraph later and realize that I don't understand what the hell is happening.
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  #18  
Old 30 March 2007, 12:43 AM
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Tantei kid

I do remember the Evelyn Woods speed-reading commercials that were on all the time when I was a kid. I was pretty skeptical of it. There's nothing wrong with skimming for information; it's a great skill to have. There's a difference, though, between skimming and actually reading a whole thing. At the time I knew someone who had bought the course and supposedly they taught you to take in large groups of words or even sentences at a glance. As the research in the OP shows, that doesn't seem to really be possible. Even if it were, I wasn't too impressed; a lot of the joy of reading something like a good novel is the beauty of the language, the descriptions, getting to know the characters. Skimming doesn't exactly cover that stuff.
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  #19  
Old 06 April 2007, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
I come from a family with hearing problems...my papa was durned near stone deef in his declining years, and I'm following in his path... The fun part (sometimes hilarious!) is when one processes information incorrectly, and extrapolates in error. Actually, one of the funniest Thanksgiving Dinners of my life was when my little sister had laryngitis. Given that pops had trouble hearing even norming speech... Well, the results can only be dreamed of...

"It sure is a lovely evening."
"Coming right up! Do you want cream or sugar with it?"

Beyond just telling a funny story, it occurs to me to wonder: we are all familiar with this kind of errors in filling in mis-heard words, but it rarely seems to happen that we fill in mis-read words in quite so absurd a fashion. Could it be that printed matter has more error-correcting redundancy built in than spoken language?
This discussion has been quite fascinating, but I think what you state in the last paragraph is simply a perception based on the occurence of such gaffs. My perceptions have been different, and I think a large part of that is due to the fact that my one minor handicap in life is a severe strabismus I was born with. It was diagnosed and treated well within the time frame of the best possible recovery, but it is something that has affected my ability to read optimally (driving is another story...I have to wear glasses and contacts). I have, on more than one occasion, gone back and found some pretty funny slipups upon proofreading my own writing. An example: A long time ago, I was helping some friends organize a local festival, and I needed to write a letter to a gentleman named Doug Baker regarding some portable ovens that we were trying to get at discount to make some of the local cuisine. A friend was proofreading it for me just before putting it in the envelope, and he no sooner glanced at the first line before he burst out laughing. I had meticulously prepared this letter, proofreading it many times, and I had unscrupulously passed by the fact that I continually addressed the intended recipient as "Dough Baker" throughout.

And it works with both reading and writing. I used to be a speed reader. I used it as a mechanism to get through school, but it was through reading the works of masterful linguists and authors like Dickens, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and the aforementioned Poe that I realized how much I was missing. To me, there are two types of reading. There is the desire for a good story, which is what I want when I sit down to read something by Irving or Grisham, and then there is the desire to admire the clever toungues of some of the most reknowned authors of all time. Either way, I have found myself stumbling upon passages simply because of an unordinary way in which a word or phrase is used. While I could get the general gist of what an author is trying to say by speed reading the text, the simple interpretation of a single phrase can turn something interesting into something profound. By oneself, this can lead to some self discovery, but is rarely an event to be dwelt upon because no one else is seeing it happen. Furthermore, while misreading a text can occasionally produce a chuckle or two, it is rarely a story worthy of a future anecdote. In a group setting, with verbal communication instead of the written word, the intended meaning is gone in seconds, and not only may hilarity ensue, but a simple misinterpretation can lead to a story to be told again and again.
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  #20  
Old 06 April 2007, 02:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aranea russus View Post
The premise in the OP is flawed. I speed read by keeping my eyes still and moving the book.
Chuck Norris speed reads by keeping his eyes still and moving the universe.
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