The Truth about Speed Reading

Want to know the truth about speed reading? It is a bunch of baloney. Well, not entirely baloney, but it is not the mystically useful skill we once thought it was. Thorin Klosowski writes about what speed “reading” can and cannot accomplish.

Speed Skimming and Forgetting

Your eyes look at one word or set of words at a time in what is called a “fixation,” which takes about .25 seconds. Moving your eyes to the next set requires another roughly 0.1 seconds and is called a “saccade.” Speed readers allegedly read faster by cutting down on subvocalization (reading the words “out loud” in your head), and this is effective, to an extent. The most popular current method of speed reading is rapid series visual presentation (RSVP), used in apps to flash one word at a time on screen, and in the same space so the eyes do not need to move to keep reading. However, even if your brain is able to identify multiple hundreds of words a minute, your comprehension will be pretty low. Anatomically, it is estimated at best that the eyes can meaningfully process slightly over 500 words a minute, which is only around a hundred words more than the upper average. So what ultimately happens with most speed reading efforts is that you do get done with the text faster, but you probably have done an inefficient job of absorbing it, and you certainly will have little or no time to enjoy it. You can read the full article here:

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