"The harsh truth about speed-reading" (and subvocalization)

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#1 10 April, 2016 - 14:22
Joined: 1 year 10 months ago

"The harsh truth about speed-reading" (and subvocalization)

"The harsh truth about speed-reading"

The article is worth a read.

This is interesting in how it might relate to subvocalization when memorizing:


Another debunked claim of speed-readers is that suppressing the little voice reading along inside our head (known as subvocalization) can effectively help us process text faster. But subvocalization plays an important role in word identification and comprehension, and even people who read at 720 words per minute still generate subvocalizations.

This is also interesting:


The controllable limiting factor has nothing to do with our eye movements or the speed of the presentation of the text. We are limited by our ability to recognize words and understand their meanings. Therefore, the researchers concluded, the best way to increase the speed of our reading is to practice reading itself, particularly different types of text with varied language. The more familiar we are with complex styles of written language, the easier it is to conduct the “elegantly choreographed dance” that is reading.

11 April, 2016 - 03:56
Joined: 2 years 5 months ago

... I do find "sub vocalization" to limit my speed of calculation. When I write "sub vocalization" I mean the concious saying of the number as if you were actually using your throat and tongue AS OPPOSED TO looking at an MRI that may very well show the same areas lighting up. Subvocalizing the extra syllables is often quite a bit slower than the actual calculation.

When reading "fiction", no requirement for retention or consideration (suspension of disbelief), it seems a lot faster and more pleasant not to chew on the words in my experience. This isn't the technique of speed reading in any sense but I do find not reading as if the text was spoken word an entirely different experience.

When reading math I tend to chew on anything I can get my teeth on until it's nice and mushy but I am trying to understand rather than memorize.

I have never had any success with the technique called "speed reading" but I have found techniques such as skimming for note taking is quite helpful.

My understanding of text memorization from reading and watching videos suggests to me that there is a significant amount of linking, visualization, localization, backchaining necessary for quick successful memorization. It would suprise me if subvocalization would be on the critical path of that process. It may even be necessary to the memorization process but I haven't practiced enough to form an opinion. Someone should ask someone like Ron White his opinions on subvocalization as he seems to have put a fair amount of effort into the skill of text memorization.

... So while the techique that is pandered as speed reading may be pretty much useless there are grains of salt within it that appear useful in some discrete instances. I suppose that is why people are willing to accept it as true. Good lies are often constructed in this manner.

It is the grains of salt that I am mostly interested in. The magic eye scanning, hundred percent retention with full comprehension without actual mental effort part can go on the pile with the "you can change your body type" and "anyone can look like arnie scharzenburger if they just try hard enough".

14 July, 2016 - 15:40
Joined: 1 year 9 months ago

Hi Josh and Robert. Interesting article, but the Kernelmag author seems a bit biased
against Speed Reading.

To be honest, there haven't been many Speed Reading contests so far,
that's why most people are dubious about any Speed Reading claims.

Interestingly enough, that article mentioned Mrs. Jones (who was the Speed Reading champion until 2005 in Minds Sports Olympiad (MSO) and a link with her titles. I checked the MSO page for that contest and it seems defunct for the last 10 years.

That MSO page also mentions Kenneth Wilshire as an "International Master (IM) of Speedreading". MSO tends to give a lot of such memorable titles after the contests. I personally know Kenneth from some Mental Calculation World Cups (I competed with him twice, and we will compete again in 2 months in Germany). Kenneth is a regular participant in MSO, and he probably knows Mrs. Anne Jones in person. I'll try to ask him about why the MSO committee decided to ditch the Speed Reading contest in MSO (for the record, so far all MSOs have taken place in London, UK)

14 July, 2016 - 17:27
Joined: 1 year 10 months ago

Isn't speed reading included at Memoriad? I'm looking forward to seeing that.

30 September, 2016 - 01:50
Joined: 1 year 9 months ago

Hi Josh. Yes, speed reading is included. The speed reading contest will take place on November 10th, 2016
and we will be 31 competitors. The contest format is on "printed material" and not on computer screen.

The highest score from previous (turkish) Memoriad contests was around 850 words per minute,
but now it will probably be needed to read more than 1K words per minute, in order to get the Gold medal.


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