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On Speed Reading

In order to get up to a high word-per-minute reading basis, you have to cut out subvocalization. The trick I’ve found for doing this is that once you start reading at a certain speed it’s impossible for you to subvocalize.  My own experience has shown me that chunking things together at this speed actually increases my comprehension. My old speed was about 750-850 wpm with 83% accuracy, though I’m somewhat out of practice now. You temporarily lose some comprehension as you adjust to new speeds, so it’s better to warm up with filler material.

However it seems my method won’t work for everyone:

I have tried almost everything to eliminate subvocalization, but I remain unsuccessful. Here is a somewhat comprehensive list of my failed techniques:

  • Counting out loud.
  • Counting internally (through subvocalization).
  • Listening to various types of music.
  • Humming.
  • Making a drawn out noise, both out loud and through subvocalization. (In the latter case I hear both the noise and the words internally.)

I have also tried the often-suggested method of reading so fast that I can’t possibly subvocalize all the words, and this has also been unsuccessful. While I am already capable of reading and understanding without subvocalizing every single word, after reading for half an hour to an hour every night faster than I was comfortable with (highly reduced comprehension) I noticed no increase in how fast I could read with normal comprehension. I don’t expect a great difference to occur instantly, but I calculated no difference at all, which caused me to conclude the method I was using was unsuccessful. Link

On the other hand, it can be easier to break through hard problems by reading things out loud to gain a better understanding of it. It’s sort of a mute point though, grasping difficult technical concepts is about more than just reading speed. To get a really solid handle on things you have to use spaced repetition, the roman room method and the “Feynman” technique:

Here is a free webapp you can load up and insert text in to get started:

Make sure your material (the What) is fairly easy for you. You should know something about the subject matter and have no major problems with the vocabulary, style, or ideas. Don’t expect to read Scientific American or Spinoza’s philosophy rapidly and with full comprehension the first time through, unless you are a scientist or philosopher. Link

On a side note, I suspect that this method may be applicable to remote viewing training, we can prevent analytic overlay by chunking and therefore speed up the process. Taking the time to stop and draw out or put information into words unpacks the knowledge and slows you down to the point that you start subvocalizing. New techniques combined with the integration of electromagnetic stimulation and fMRI can advance the field beyond it’s current lackluster state. Mystics have spent generations trying to figure out ways to quiet the mind, though now this meditation is used more for it’s emotionally therapeutic benefits rather than for increasing raw focusing power.

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