A “life threatening” controversy erupts over speed reading as Adam (me) decides to answer fire with fire! This, my devote reader, is a debate worthy to follow…

Confused? Let’s then roll back the tape a little bit, shall we?… As most of you know, I am a huge fan of speed reading, I promote it heavily and I simply love it.

It’s no coincidence that speed reading has been mentioned a lot on my blog & site:

Tips Speed Reading: Discover how to legally break the speed limit. The days of reading slowly are over!

Speed Reading: An article describing the art of speed reading and a general approach to increasing ones reading speed.

Speed Reading Test: The most popular page on my entire site! Find out how fast you read and compare with friends/family.

Having that said, I did actually receive a lot of feedback on my speedreading test tool. Most of it has been good but some of the response has been criticizing speed reading as a method. Here’s a comment I got from a guy called mhdk:

“Alternatively, you could be more judicial about what you choose to read. For example, I determined that the passage in the test wasn’t worth reading and so my result was 3645620345 words a minute.Speed reading is pointless. See this “success” story, quote:“It was a midterm exam in Organic Biochemistry. I hadn’t studied any of it at all. I used the “natural” speed reader technique … At 12,000 words a minute, careening through 105 pages of text … did quite well on the multiple choice part of the test and got the second highest score in the class. I walked out of the classroom and could not recall anything from the exam. Not a single thing. Gone.I hope our medical students aren’t using this technique.From the Wikipedia entry:“Speed reading in all forms is essentially incompatible with long term memory. You cannot speed read your textbooks and expect the information to stick no matter how well you understand the material in short term memory or how aggressive your comprehension techniques are. Speed reading is for short term understanding.”

I feel I have to disagree. First of all, speed reading is not the same as skimming, the latter emphasizes on speed while the former tries to retain the same level of comprehension. Let me clarify this with a simple example;

Back in the good o’le days as small little children, we all had to learn reading phonetically, that is, by reciting one letter at the time. Then all of a sudden something very interesting happened in our lives;

We Became Better Readers

Now did this mean that our comprehension had decreased? Of course not, we did read faster but that is because our brain adapted to the change. Reading is just like other types of activities, a frequent swimmer becomes better at swimming, someone who runs a lot will most likely run faster.

Likewise, someone who reads often and focuses on reading faster will eventually reach this level while retaining (or even improving) his/her comprehension level.

That’s my 2 and half cents, I would love to hear some comments on this one!