Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good old Evelyn Wood

Silly rabbit, you are not reading fast...you're
 running fast.
Do you even know who Evelyn Wood is? Back in the day--way back--she personified "speed reading," which was a fad for quite a while.

Speed readers were depicted as running their hands down a page at lightning speed--then saying, "got it." Everyone wanted to know how to do it.

I guess speed reading is still around--and some people think it's the solution to the text we must read every day--from emails to white papers. In fact, I learned, it is back in vogue, but dolled up in digital.

In a report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a scientist at Univ of California San Diego, named Elizabeth Schotter, concluded that there is--sadly--a tradeoff between speed and comprehension.

Skilled readers can read at 200-400 words a minute. But some speed reading "technology" (besides the hand guiding down the page) puts the words rapidly in the middle of a screen, each new word replacing the previous one.

Problem is, shifting the eye back to the left takes only 10% of the time in reading. And the brain processes the ideas by seeing ahead and combining the words into a thought or sentence.

In tests later, these speed readers don't do well.

Still, they tell us, skimming can increase speed--you can get the gist.

Evelyn would be scandalized--the gist?

Oh, well, no shortcuts to glory.

Your estimated time to read this: One minute.

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