Re: Self Improvement

From: Joel Peter William Pitt (
Date: Sun Jan 29 2006 - 14:56:12 MST

Hi Herb,

I'm intrigued by speed reading.

Do you have any recommendations for books or websites that explain the
process and how to train one's self?


On 1/29/06, Herb Martin <> wrote:
> > >About 10 times more per unit of time that I did
> > >before learning the skill.
> > >2500 WPM with similar comprehension is attainable
> > >through moderate but serious practice.
> > Somehow reading at speeds like this gives the impression to
> > me of simply
> > blindly integrating a lot of base level data. That just isn't
> > enough though.
> Remember we are talking about SIMILAR or BETTER
> comprehension.
> There are two or three standard 'objections' to
> speed reading, this is one of the classics (not
> a criticism of your impression, just to let you
> know it is highly typical.)
> Sometimes the objection is expressed along the
> lines of "what about reading for relaxation?" or
> "what about poetry?" or (your next example) "what
> about math?"...
> Here's the key: Once you can speed read you never
> lose the ability to read SLOWLY. It is precisely
> analogous to learning to run, or ride a bicycle
> or even fly an airplane: No one would seriously
> try to walk from America to Europe for a business
> meeting next Tuesday-- you fly.
> But no one would fly to the corner market to pick
> up milk and bread.
> > Imagine attempting to read a math textbook, over a section
> > you have no previous knowledge about, at 2500 WPM.
> Most of the time, I read math slowly -- math is typically
> very dense information (in most cases.)
> BUT, I can alter this in several ways: I can read ahead
> at a rapid pace -- perhaps the item that is troubling
> me will be explained better by a later example.
> I can read it rapidly once, then slowly, then study
> over the parts that still trouble me.
> Or, I can just read it the way that "everyone else
> does" -- like I used to read it always.
> Oddly enough, some math and EVEN some poetry works
> better at high speeds. My best example of this for
> poetry that is largely visual imagery. Much of the
> feel for speed reading is closer to video or images
> than to that usual "voice in your head."
> > It just doesn't make sense to me. You aren't really
> > comprehending in a "more
> > optimal" way, because integrating base level data just isn't
> > nearly as
> > important as appying more complex constructions of this base
> > level data.
> No, it just doesn't make sense to you because you haven't
> done it - just as if you try to explain vision to someone
> who is blind from birth....
> Or trying to explain WHAT READING is to someone who is
> not only illiterate but who has grown up in an primitive
> culture where there is no lifelong explanation of the
> value of reading....
> How can text on the page allow you to learn as if you
> were listening to an instructor or as if you were
> watching a play, or....
> For those who have never read this makes no sense.
> > You
> > would be better off spending your time going slowly and
> > updating/adding/subtracting hypotheses on all the levels of
> > abstraction for
> > every piece of information you are getting.
> Now you are telling me "you would be better off..."
> No, I have more choices (than I had before) and I
> am free to choose the best method, or methods, for
> my needs, time, and even adjust based on results...
> > Does that makes sense?
> It makes sense that you have those feelings; it
> does not correspond to the reality of the skill.
> --
> Herb

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