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Is Speed Reading a Con?

26 Jun 2019
Is Speed Reading a Con?

If the question is whether Speed Reading is lies, hype of fake then the answer is absolutely not. I would never teach something I didn’t believe in. We have trained hundreds to thousands of people who have improved their personal and business effectiveness through Speed Reading. National and World Speed Reading competitions showcase some of the fastest readers who have trained hard to hone their use of the techniques.
The question does go deeper though. “Con” is short for “Confidence Trick”. You definitely need confidence to Speed Read. Mainly confidence in yourself and the fact that you can assimilate at speed. One of the keys to Speed Reading is to push your speed first and then consider comprehension.
If you are holding back for fear of missing something it will take you much longer to progress. Comprehension can initially drop. This is nothing to do with speed but due to the fact that your attention is divided. You are having to think about ‘how’ you are reading as well as ‘what’ you are reading. Keeping pushing and having confidence eventually leads to the new habit becoming second nature. When you no longer need to think about the process, your attention is solely on the text and your comprehension goes up. If you drive a car, can you remember being a learner driver? Where are the gears? Remember mirror-signal-manoeuvre; all the controls: Indicators, lights, windscreen wipers, clutch, brakes, accelerator. It seemed so hard!
“What do you mean you didn’t know I was turning left? Didn’t you see me indicating with my windscreen wipers?”
After a few years’ experience you can drive safely without being conscious of the process and can even sing along to the radio. Nobody says, “I’ll stick at five miles per hour because driving is too complicated.”
Does Speed Reading use Tricks? If you mean in the sense of “Tricks of the Trade” (defined as, “special ingenious techniques used in a profession or craft, especially those that are little known by outsiders.”) then absolutely yes.
I have a cunning plan.
If you mean trick as, “a cunning act or scheme intended to deceive” then we use that too but only with good intentions. Let me explain. Did your granny ever tell you “Don’t wear your coat indoors or you won't feel the benefit when you go outside”? We mostly perceive things relative to each other. If you’re hot indoors, the relative difference to the temperature outside will be greater so perceived as colder. What’s this got to do with reading? We perceive reading speed relative to what we’re accustomed to. If you normally read at 200 words per minute then 1000wpm feels too fast so you hold back. Relativistic training in Speed Reading tricks your brain into feeling 1000wpm is more comfortable. You start by moving your guide at a ridiculous speed of over 4000wpm for about a minute, following with your eyes and taking in next to nothing. This establishes a new baseline for comparison. When you then read at what feels like a comfortable speed you will, in reality, be reading much faster. You’ve tricked your brain but have achieved a positive result.
So is Speed Reading a con? Yes but in a good way.