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I Was Wrong About Speed Reading: Here are the Facts

Seven years ago, I read some books and articles on speed reading and started practicing some of the methods. I found I was able to increase my reading speed from 450 word per minute to 900 in the drills, so I published an article entitled, Double Your Reading Rate, which has since become one of the most popular on this website.

When I wrote the piece, I based the article purely on my personal experience along with the how-to books I had read. I didn’t have any solid scientific research to back my experiments.

Since that time, I’ve had some lingering doubts about speed reading. In addition to seeing some flickers of research that made me suspicious about speed reading programs, I had mostly stopped using the techniques I originally advocated. My reading diet had switched from lighter self-help, to denser and more academic writing. That meant comprehension, not speed, was the bottleneck I was trying to improve.

Now, nearly a decade later, I decided to do some in-depth research into speed reading to bring you the facts.

Is It Possible to Read 20,000+ Words Per Minute?

Some speed reading claims can be tossed aside immediately. Claims that you can read a book as fast as you can flip through a phone book are completely impossible on anatomical and neurological levels.

First we have anatomical reasons to throw out absurdly high reading rates. In order to read, the eye has to stop at a part of the text, this is called fixation. Next, it must make a quick movement to the next fixation point, this is called a saccade. Finally, after you jump a few points, the brain has to assemble all this information so you can comprehend what you’ve just seen.

Eye-movement expert Keith Rayner, argues that even going beyond 500 words per minute is improbable because the mechanical process of moving your eye, fixing it and processing the visual information can’t go much faster than that.

Speed reading experts claim that they can work around this problem by taking in more visual information in each saccade. Instead of reading a couple words in one fixation, you can process multiple lines at a time.

This is unlikely for two reasons. One, the area of the eye which can correctly resolve details, called the fovea, is quite small—only about an inch in diameter at reading distance. Processing more information per fixation is limited by the fact that our eyes are rather poor lenses. They need to move around in order to get more details. This means that eyes are physically constrained in the amount of information they achieve per fixation.

Second, working memory constraints are at least as important as anatomical ones. The brain can hold around 3-5 “chunks” of information at a time. Parsing multiple lines simultaneously, means that each of these threads of information must remain open until the line is fully read. This just isn’t possible with our limited mental RAM.

What about systems like Spritz? Spritz works by trying to avoid the problem of saccades. If each word appears in the same place on the screen, your eye can stay fixed on that point while words flip through more quickly than you could hunt them down on a page. Indeed, using the application gives a strong impression that you can read very quickly.

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Their website claims to have research showing faster reading speeds, but unfortunately I was not able to find any independent, peer-reviewed work substantiating these claims.

Working memory constraints here too, enforce a limit on the upper speed you could use Spritz and still be considered to be “reading” everything. Remember reading was a three step process: fixate, saccade and process. Well that processing step slows down regular reading too. If there are no pauses in the stream of words, there isn’t enough time to process them and they fall out of working memory before they’re comprehended.

Is It Possible to Make Moderate Speed Gains Through Training?

The evidence is clear: anything above 500-600 words per minute is improbable without losing comprehension. Even my own perceived gain of 900 word per minute meant that I was probably losing considerable comprehension. This was masked because the books I was reading had enough redundancy to make following along possible with impaired comprehension.

However, according to Raynor, the average college-educated reader only reads at 200-400 words per minute. If 500-600 words forms an upper bound, that does suggest that doubling your reading rate is possible, albeit as a hard upper limit. Can we still get moderate speed reading gains?

There seems to be some mild evidence here in favor of speed reading. One study of a course had some students quadruple their speed. Another study showed some speed reading experts reading around the 600 word per minute level, roughly twice as fast as a normal reader.

However there’s a trap here. Speed reading may possibly make you a faster reader, but it’s not clear the speed reading techniques are the cause. Second, speed reading trainees tended to read faster, with less comprehension, than non-speed readers. Since measuring comprehension is more difficult than speed, I believe many new speed readers can fall into the trap I did: believing they’re making an unqualified doubling of their reading rate, when in reality, they are doing so at a significant tradeoff of comprehension.

Do Speed Reading Techniques Work?

If the evidence suggests that reading faster may be possible, albeit more modestly, it casts a much harsher light on certain speed reading dogma. The most dangerous is the idea that subvocalization should be avoided to read faster.

Subvocalization is the little inner voice you have when reading that speaks the words aloud. When you started reading you probably spoke out loud with that voice, but you learned to silence it as you got older. If you turn your attention to it, however, you can still hear yourself making the sounds of the words in your head.

Speed reading experts claim that subvocalization is the bottleneck that slows down your reading. If you can learn to just recognize words visually without saying them in your inner voice, you can read much faster.

Here the evidence is clear: subvocalization is necessary to read well. Even expert speed readers do it, they just do it a bit faster than untrained people do. We can check this because that inner voice sends faint communication signals to the vocal cords, as a residue of your internal monolog, and those signals can be measured objectively.

It’s simply not possible to comprehend what you’re reading and avoid using that inner voice. So reading faster means being able to use this inner voice faster, not eliminating it. To further that, expert speed readers who were studied also subvocalized, they just did it faster.

The other main recommendation I made in my speed reading article was using a pointer. This means moving your finger or a pen to underline the text as you read it. This technique is supposed to help you make eye fixations and reduce the random wandering of the eye which can waste time. One study suggests that this apparent function isn’t realized, and that the pointer functions as a pacing device, while actual eye fixations are uncorrelated with pointer or hand movements.

If You Shouldn’t Speed Read, How Should You Read Better and Faster?

In my research for this article, I did find a couple factors that were associated with better reading speed, without sacrificing comprehension. None of these are magic fixes for your reading woes, but a mild treatment that works is better than a fantastic one which doesn’t.

Reading Tip #1: Skim Before You Read

Many speed reading courses are actually teaching skimming techniques, even if they package it as “reading” faster. Skimming is covering the text too fast to read everything fully. Instead, you’re selectively picking up parts of the information.

Skimming, isn’t actually a bad method, provided it’s used wisely. One study found that skimming a text before going on to reading it, improved comprehension in the majority of cases.

Reading Tip #2: Improve Your Fluency to Improve Your Speed

Fluent recognition of words was one of the major slowing points for readers. Subvocalization, that mythical nemesis of speed readers, is slower on unfamiliar words. If you want to speed up reading, learning to recognize words faster seems to improve your reading speed.

Fluency isn’t just an issue for reading in your non-native language. It also matters for technical documents or prose which uses unfamiliar vocabulary. If I’m reading a text that uses jargon like mRNA, or obscure words like synecdoche, I’m going to pause longer. That will slow my reading speed down.

The best way to improve fluency is to read more. If you read more of a certain type of text, you’ll learn those words faster and read better. If you’re a non-native or fluency significantly impacts your reading speed, then even a tool like Anki may be useful for learning hard words.

Reading Tip #3: Know What You Want, Before You Read It

Part of the reason skimming first might appear to help is that it allows you to map out a document. Knowing how an article or book is structured, then, allows you to pay more attention to the things you think are important.

Another tip offered in a lot of speed reading courses, which is likely good advice, is to know what you’re trying to get out of a text before you read it. Thinking about this before you start reading allows you to prime yourself to pay attention when you see words and sentences that are related. Even if you’re reading at a speed which has some comprehension loss, you’ll be more likely to slow down at the right moments.

This isn’t always possible. I read a lot of books unsure about what I want to discover in them. Fiction and reading for pleasure can’t be reduced to a mission objective. However a lot of bland, necessary reading in our lives fits this type. Speeding it up might be worthwhile if it leaves us more time for reading with curiosity.

Reading Tip #4: Deeper Processing Tasks to Improve Retention

Sometimes you don’t want speed at all—you want near full comprehension. When I was in school, I needed to read most textbooks in a way that I could retain nearly every fact and idea I encountered later. It’s not just full comprehension you want, but long-term memory of the information.

Here cognitive science offers some suggestions. A principle of memory is that we remember what we think about. So if you want to remember the ideas of a book, highlighting bolded passages isn’t the best idea. Highlighting causes you to think about bolded words, not what they means.

Some alternatives are taking paraphrased, sparse notes or rewriting factual information you want to remember as questions to self-quiz later.

Conclusion

I was wrong. Subvocalization shouldn’t be avoided. Doubling your reading rate may be possible from a lower range (250 to 500 words per minute, for example), but it’s probably impossible to go beyond 500-600 words and still get full retention. Speed reading may have some redemption as an alternative to skimming text, but even here the benefits come from how speed readers conceptually organize the text, and not on the mechanics of eye movements.

In terms of accuracy, my original article hasn’t aged too well. In my more recent courses, I still teach speed-reading, but I had already shifted mostly to the speed-reading-as-intelligent-skimming paradigm which is a bit more defensible. Still, I’ll be sure to include this research in any new courses I develop.

I apologize to any readers who may have gotten outsized hopes about what speed reading could accomplish. My goal, as always, isn’t to present a fixed dogma of what it takes to learn better, but to research and experiment with new ideas. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s a path that dead-ends or winds back on itself. In any case, I’ll always do my best to share whatever I find with you.

Three broadband Reviews

991 • Poor

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Reviews 991

I live in central London and am less…

I live in central London and am less than 50M from the 5G Tower. Day one was great I was getting 200Mbs but since then I would average

Worst internet I have ever had

Worst internet I have ever had, seems like now they are focusing 5g they don’t care about the 4g now and they have dropped the signal capacity so much that I cannot even watch a video on facebook

AVOID. JUST DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!

Biggest mistake I made was going to Three for home broadband. It is terrible most times. I end up having to do hotspot on my mobile data. Please take my advice. Don’t even touch Three broadband with a barge pole. AVOID.

Three is making 5G advertisements every…

Three is making 5G advertisements every where and promising high speed and quality network . But since 3-4 months I am not able to get 3G network, how is that?

5g is harmful to people / the planet…

5g is harmful to people / the planet and wild life. Stop 5g now

Had speeds above 200 mb/s för the first 2 weeks and after that 2mb/s. This is a scam – there is no customer service, they simply hang up on you. Avoid

DO NOT BUY THIS FROM THREE EVER!

Been with three for over 10 years, mobile service has been great. But the broadband that I took out with the HUAWEI speaker router has been the worst thing I have ever bought. Even when I call they go over the same thing, they even say things like any problem three will fix it. Unfortunately it’s the sale scripted rubbish they have been telling everyone.

Eventually after 3 hours on the phone the Glasgow head office agree to cancel the contract but still wanted me to pay for the device. Currently this case is ongoing and you won’t be able to get through to anyone. Instead you must do this online and trust me the 3 hour wait sounds like a dream compared to this.

Don’t waste your money. Even when it says speeds are good, your devices will disconnect. I don’t know why but there’s something not complete about the broad band they supply. It’s almost like the engine they use works but is half broken.

Avoid and just go with a proper broadband supplier.

I urge anyone reading this that has or is thinking of buying this to read the following blog. They asked three to explain why there broadband has been suffering especially not working with xbox services. Something I have also Encountered and can confirm that trying to play online is impossible as connection interrupts on every single game.

Type in ispreview in google and read what they have to say about three as they investigated, and guess what, three didn’t respond.

Physical Side Effects of Oversleeping

Articles On Oversleeping

Oversleeping

Oversleeping – Physical Side Effects of Oversleeping

When it comes to sleep, can you have too much of a good thing? It’s true a good night’s sleep is essential for health. But oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and increased risk of death.

Researchers are careful to note, however, that two other factors — depression and low socioeconomic status — are strongly associated with oversleeping. Those two factors may be the reason for the observed negative health effects. For example, people of lower socioeconomic status may have less access to healthcare and therefore more undiagnosed illnesses, such as heart disease, which, in turn, may cause oversleeping.

Oversleeping: How Much Sleep Is Too Much?

The amount of sleep you need varies significantly over the course of your lifetime. It depends on your age and activity level as well as your general health and lifestyle habits. For instance, during periods of stress or illness, you may feel an increased need for sleep. But although sleep needs differ over time and from person to person, experts typically recommend that adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night.

Why Do People Sleep Too Much?

For people who suffer from hypersomnia, oversleeping is actually a medical disorder. The condition causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. It also causes them to sleep for unusually long periods of time at night. Many people with hypersomnia experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy, and memory problems as a result of their almost constant need for sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes people to stop breathing momentarily during sleep, can also lead to an increased need for sleep. That’s because it disrupts the normal sleep cycle.

Of course, not everyone who oversleeps has a sleep disorder. Other possible causes of oversleeping include the use of certain substances, such as alcohol and some prescription medications. Other medical conditions, including depression, can cause people to oversleep. And then there are people who simply want to sleep a lot.

Medical Problems Linked to Oversleeping

Diabetes . Studies have shown that sleeping too long or not enough each night can increase the risk for diabetes.

Continued

Obesity . Sleeping too much or too little could make you weigh too much, as well. One recent study showed that people who slept for nine or 10 hours every night were 21% more likely to become obese over a six-year period than were people who slept between seven and eight hours. This association between sleep and obesity remained the same even when food intake and exercise were taken into account.

Headaches . For some people prone to headaches, sleeping longer than usual on a weekend or vacation can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. People who sleep too much during the day and disrupt their nighttime sleep may also find themselves suffering from headaches in the morning.

Back pain . There was a time when doctors told people suffering from back pain to head straight to bed. But those days are long gone. You may not even need to curtail your regular exercise program when you are experiencing back pain. Check with your doctor. Doctors now realize the health benefits of maintaining a certain level of activity. And they recommend against sleeping more than usual, when possible.

Depression.. Although insomnia is more commonly linked to depressionВ than oversleeping is, roughly 15% of people with depression sleep too much. This may in turn make their depression worse. That’s because regular sleep habits are important to the recovery process.

Heart disease . The Nurses’ Health Study involved nearly 72,000 women. A careful analysis of the data from that study showed that women who slept nine to 11 hours per night were 38% more likely to have coronary heart disease than women who slept eight hours. Researchers have not yet identified a reason for the connection between oversleeping and heart disease.

Death. Multiple studies have found that people who sleep nine or more hours a night have significantly higher death rates than people sleeping seven to eight hours a night. No specific reason for this correlation has been determined. But researchers found that depression and low socioeconomic status are also associated with longer sleep. They speculate these factors could be related to the observed increase in mortality for people who sleep too much.

Continued

Get the Benefits of Sleep Without Oversleeping

If you average more than seven or eight hours of sleep per night, see a doctor for a checkup. The doctor can help you determine why you oversleep.

If your oversleeping is caused by alcohol or certain prescription medications, cutting back on or eliminating the use of these substances may help. Never stop a prescribed medicine, however, unless instructed to do so by your doctor. Similarly, if your oversleeping is caused by an underlying medical condition, treating this disorder may allow you to return to normal sleep habits.

Regardless of the cause of your oversleeping, practicing good sleep hygiene will help you reap the benefits of a healthy seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Experts recommend keeping the same bedtimes and wake times every day. They also recommend avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. Exercising regularly and making your bedroom a comfortable environment that’s conducive to sleep will help you get the amount of sleep you need.

Sources

WebMD Medical News: “Sleep Habits Linked to Diabetes, Death.”

WebMD Medical News: “Watch Your Sleep, Watch Your Weight.”

WebMD Migraines & Headaches Health Center: “Prevention.”

National Sleep Foundation: “The Ill Effects of Too Much Sleep.”

National Sleep Foundation: “How much sleep do we really need?”

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