What ‘Instinct’ Produces Speed Reading?


What’s a 3rd grade definition of ‘instinct’?

Is it reflex? Which is closest - ‘intuition’, ‘hardwired’, ‘gut-reaction’ or habit?

In college we get this definition – a biological-drive, an inborn pattern of behavior
shaped by biological needs such as ‘survival’ and reproduction. Latin of course –
meaning ‘impulse’, stemming from – ‘to sting’.

Boring? Let try this knockout example of a psychological-instinct. It is by brilliant-star, Steven Cohen, author of ‘Win the Crowd’. We strongly recommend it as a learning textbook.


1. “How many fingers does one man have on his hands?”
2. “How many fingers on ten hands?”

Okay – if you are as smart as me – you answered ten, and one-hundred – right?

And you did it fast – automatically - without analysis - that one man has ten-fingers, and they come with the body. No tricks – that’s absolutely correct – you win the Crackerjack prize.

Now number 2 – you and I answer one-hundred because we reasoned governed by the correct answer to the answer to number 1. Ten-fingers for one man – we
multiplied by ten. Easy. Hold it! The question was the number of fingers on
ten-hands – not ten-men. Of course you know that there are only five-fingers
on one-hand, and ten-times-five is fifty – not one-hundred.

Question number one led you down a path of correctness – answering it correctly put your brain in a specific state-of-mind. We based our answer
to question number 2 – on how ‘smart’ we felt when we got the right
answer to #1. Don’t we all luv to be ‘right’? When we’re right – we stop to
congratulate ourselves – and stop thinking for a couple-of-heartbeats.
No thinking means reading without meaning-and-understanding.

Is this a trick-question?

No! It is a lesson in ‘distraction’, and how a cognitive-instinct makes us
kind of – susceptible to error.

The Prez

Did you hear the speech President Bush made when he said –

“Is your children doing well in school?”

Did you answer – ‘Yes - they is!’ - or ‘No - they isn’t?’

Wait - that sounds dum!

The President is both a Yale, and Harvard Business School graduate – if you
cannot trust him – who can you…?

What happened to distract his university-level thinking?

It sounded perfectly right in his mind.

Eyes Follow a Moving Object

If there is one buried secret to being a Speedlearner – it is discovering and utilizing the instinct that we are hardwired for - ‘movement’. Our brain directs
our eyes to stop thinking-and-analyzing when anything ‘moves’ within our
Field-of-Vision. Instinct-automatic-genetic, and hardwired, kicks in when we see movement.

Yes, it’s hereditary, evolutionary and genetic – that our eyes must follow a moving object. It is a gift given to our ancestors – when they still swung in
trees, continued in caves, and remains active in 2005+. The purpose was to
give them an extra second or two to escape or defend themselves – from danger.

Because our eyes follow any moving object – a leaping-tiger, an attacking tribe from the cave next-door – or a pacer used for Speedlearning – it is a life-saver.

What makes it work? Remember – you don’t have to understand why something
works - to use it and learn from it. If the Motor Vehicle Bureau required us to
be able to explain ‘spontaneous-combustion’ in a gas engine, or how ‘automatic-transmission’ works – the roads would be empty.

In Speedlearning – explaining how-or-why our ‘eyes follow a moving-object’ - is
a form of nuclear physics for us. All we know is that when we engage our
‘peripheral-vision’, using the “rods” (photoreceptors), in our retina, we change the focus of our “Eye-Movement-Patterns” - in our ‘Field-of-Vision’.

In reading we go from a “foveal-vision” of six-letters wide, to “peripheral-vision” of up to thirty-six-letters wide. We plain - see more! Up to six-words at a time for Speedlearners - instead of just one-word at a time for ‘snailers’. Speedlearners are capable of tripling their reading speed and adding up to 40% to their learning-skills.


Do you have to understand how-and-why our eyes follow a moving object?
Do basketball players know how they see the opposition players on their lateral-left and lateral-right? Can you explain how you look out your car’s windshield
and simultaneously see directly in front of you (in your lane), and the cars in the
left and right-lanes? All you have to know is it works - and saves lives.

We suggest you use the Speedlearning strategy of ‘triple-reading’ for this article, and Skim-Scan-Screen the paragraphs. It generates up to a 40% improvement in your concentration-comprehension-reading speed, and long-term memory.
And that’s an important contribution to your brilliance as a student – executive or professional.

See Ya,

copyright © 2005
H. Bernard Wechsler

Author's Bio: 

Author of "Speed Reading for Professionals", published byBarron's Educational Series. Senior Educational Director ofSpeedlearning 100 - affiliated with Hofstra University.Partner of Evelyn Wood