I remember a couple of years back trying to master Howard Berg's Speed Reading program. Being that it was on cassette and that he was miserably boring to listen to, the results weren't too positive. It seems as though there has become more of an emphasis on speed reading today with the always on-the-go lifestyles maintained by most people. This is as well the case for a typical college student as the effort to skim read a chapter the night before an exam is likely an all too familiar feeling. With this, people look for ways to comprehend material in a short period of time, leading to speed-reading programs.
Speed-reading programs are basically courses designed to enhance reading rates. Extraordinary claims like "Double your reading speed and comprehension in just 7 days!" are made and draw in students and professionals who are desperate to get the most out of their hectic days. Most colleges, including the U of M, have speed-reading courses made available to their students. However, these programs are being targeted as "scams" as skeptics argue that comprehension rates drop drastically when attempting to increase reading speed significantly. In regards to the Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, "research conducted on speed reading experts who claim to be able to read at over 1000 words per minute with full comprehension has found that their claims are false (Homa, 1983) and that these two readers who were studied failed miserably in comprehension rates.
Be that as it may, it is in my belief that these programs will always be around as new generations try their hand at increasing their own reading rates. Internet sites like "speedreadingsoftware.com" even rank these courses and have their own top ten! So if we know that these courses are a scam and positive results are exaggerated, why are they still around? Its simple. Money. Companies know that there will always be a consistent set of people looking for that edge and these programs with their bold claims will always draw in an audience. With the rapid advances in technology however, it begs the question, will we ever be able to live up to these extraordinary claims or is it just wishful thinking?