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August 30, 2012
Re: OT: Speed reading (was: Re: The best programming advice I ever got)
On Thu, 30 Aug 2012 10:45:13 +0200
"xenon325" <1@mail.net> wrote:
> 
> In the context of learning to learn. Have anyone tried speed
> reading [1] ?
> 
> I'm thinking about taking a course. Seems to be extremely useful,
> but effort is pretty big (few hours each day for few months, and
> I'm ... let's say not really disciplined) and opponents bash it
> quite heavy (e.g. very superficial understanding of the text)
> 
> P.S. Good article. *A lot* of people I know seems to miss that
> point.
> 
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_reading

I can usually identify speed readers when emailing because they're the
ones whose responses clearly indicate they totally missed at least half
of what I wrote.

Based on that wikipedia page, it sounds like "speed reading" doesn't
really mean anything at all, but is just a catch-all term for any
technique for improving reading speed. I didn't know that before.

A speed reading fan once told me that speed reading is all about
reading one sentence at a time instead of one word at a time (note that
unless you're learning to read, nobody reads one letter at a
time). I don't know if that's a fair description of "speed reading" or
not, but it's definitely a flawed approach: We can read whole words at
a time because:

- There are only so many letters (even in Chinese/Kanji
the characters are constructed out of only so many common radicals).

- There are only so many commonly-used sequences of letters (Ie, words),
and half the words used are VERY common. (Ex: Consider the previous
sentence: "are, so, the, and, most, many, there" Ie, half the words
are extremely common.) Sure, there are MANY valid words, but most of
them are fairly uncommon.

- It's uncommon that getting a couple letters wrong will result in a
radically altered, and still contextually-valid, meaning. That means
there's built-in error-correction, which is why we don't read
every letter and can still get away with it. Reading the overall word
instead of it's component parts typically work just fine.

But extending the above to whole sentences, or even phrases, doesn't
work:

- There are nearly limitless ways of combining words to make phrases
and sentences, unlike combining letters (or radicals) to make
words. (We have dictionaries of words. Think it's even remotely possible
to have a dictionary of sentences?) You're going to see the same
sequence of letters over and over and over and over...but
there's very few sentences, if any, that get re-used like words do.
There are common phrases, but even the most common phrases are no where
near as common as the most common words.

- Getting a word wrong or a couple words flip-flopped is far more
likely to result in a radically altered meaning, than doing to same to
mere letters. And such altered meanings will typically be far less
obvious. Unlike words, there's very little built-in error correction.
August 31, 2012
Re: OT: Speed reading
Walter Bright:

> Speed reading works fine when reading a bestseller novel. It's 
> a complete failure at reading intellectually dense material.

But if the novel you have speed read was very good you have 
missed most of the enjoyment. It's like eating a very good 
traditional handmade ice cream: if you gulp it down in few 
seconds you miss most of the point of eating it :)

Better to read one good novel slowly and appreciate and 
understand it well, than quickly read three of them, and forget 
them in few weeks.

Bye,
bearophile
August 31, 2012
Re: OT: Speed reading
On Fri, 31 Aug 2012 03:04:58 +0200
"bearophile" <bearophileHUGS@lycos.com> wrote:

> Walter Bright:
> 
> > Speed reading works fine when reading a bestseller novel. It's 
> > a complete failure at reading intellectually dense material.
> 
> But if the novel you have speed read was very good you have 
> missed most of the enjoyment. It's like eating a very good 
> traditional handmade ice cream: if you gulp it down in few 
> seconds you miss most of the point of eating it :)

Mostly because the headache you'll inevitably endure will divert all
your attention away from the taste! :)
August 31, 2012
Re: OT: Speed reading (was: Re: The best programming advice I ever got)
On Thursday, 30 August 2012 at 23:18:34 UTC, Nick Sabalausky 
wrote:
> I can usually identify speed readers when emailing because 
> they're the
> ones whose responses clearly indicate they totally missed at 
> least half
> --snip--

Look, I'm sure you've just met some poor speed readers. And your 
point about speed readers not being good at reading dictionaries 
and something about wearing flip flops is wrong. I wear normal 
shoes, thank you very much.

...

:p
August 31, 2012
Re: OT: Speed reading
On Friday, 31 August 2012 at 01:05:00 UTC, bearophile wrote:
> Walter Bright:
>
>> Speed reading works fine when reading a bestseller novel. It's 
>> a complete failure at reading intellectually dense material.
>
> But if the novel you have speed read was very good you have 
> missed most of the enjoyment. It's like eating a very good 
> traditional handmade ice cream: if you gulp it down in few 
> seconds you miss most of the point of eating it :)
>
> Better to read one good novel slowly and appreciate and 
> understand it well, than quickly read three of them, and forget 
> them in few weeks.

Even when watching a movie I usually rewind and rewatch intense 
scenes several times.
August 31, 2012
Re: OT: Speed reading
On Fri, 31 Aug 2012 08:41:58 +0200
"Kagamin" <spam@here.lot> wrote:

> On Friday, 31 August 2012 at 01:05:00 UTC, bearophile wrote:
> > Walter Bright:
> >
> >> Speed reading works fine when reading a bestseller novel. It's 
> >> a complete failure at reading intellectually dense material.
> >
> > But if the novel you have speed read was very good you have 
> > missed most of the enjoyment. It's like eating a very good 
> > traditional handmade ice cream: if you gulp it down in few 
> > seconds you miss most of the point of eating it :)
> >
> > Better to read one good novel slowly and appreciate and 
> > understand it well, than quickly read three of them, and forget 
> > them in few weeks.
> 
> Even when watching a movie I usually rewind and rewatch intense 
> scenes several times.

I do that constantly :)  (Netflix is a PITA with that though since
seeking an internet-streamed media just...doesn't naturally work well
like with local media. 'Course Netflix doesn't offer alternate
languages or dvd extras, which can be really annoying too on stuff
with mediocre dubs.)

In my case the constant rewinding is usually due to dialog being
mumbled or muddy or too fast or drowned out by sfx/music (which has
become unfathomably common these days) or when I just wasn't paying
attention and missed something ;)
August 31, 2012
Re: OT: Speed reading
On 08/30/2012 06:09 PM, Nick Sabalausky wrote:
> On Fri, 31 Aug 2012 03:04:58 +0200
> "bearophile"<bearophileHUGS@lycos.com>  wrote:
>
>> Walter Bright:
>>
>>> Speed reading works fine when reading a bestseller novel. It's
>>> a complete failure at reading intellectually dense material.
>>
>> But if the novel you have speed read was very good you have
>> missed most of the enjoyment. It's like eating a very good
>> traditional handmade ice cream: if you gulp it down in few
>> seconds you miss most of the point of eating it :)
>
> Mostly because the headache you'll inevitably endure will divert all
> your attention away from the taste! :)
>
If speed reading gives you a headache, either you're doing it wrong, or 
you need your eyes checked.  Probably the latter.

OTOH, it isn't pleasurable.  The only use I ever had for it was reading 
text in classes I didn't want to take, where I couldn't have forced 
myself to read the text while thinking about it.  (So it had better NOT 
be information dense.)  Note that good speed reading requires sufficient 
concentration, that one gets neither pleasure nor "disgust" from it.  (I 
don't know what the correct antonym for pleasure is in this context, but 
it isn't pain.)  I believe that if one were to do it for very long that 
it would cease to be any more stressful than other things requiring 
intense concentration.  I don't believe that it would ever be pleasurable.

FWIW, it's been decades since I've speed read for more than a page or 
two.  I like to understand what I'm reading, not just absorb it as raw 
sensory input.
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