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The World Championship Speed Reading Competition stresses reading comprehension as critical. The top contestants typically read around 1,000 to 2,000 words per minute with approximately 50% comprehension or above. The world champion is Anne Jones with 4,700 words per minute with 67% comprehension. The 10,000 word/min claimants have yet to reach this level.[citation needed]

Much controversy is raised over this point. This is mainly because a reading comprehension level of 50% is deemed unusable by some educationalists (Carver 1992). Speed reading advocates claim that it is a great success and even state that it is a demonstration of good comprehension for many purposes (Buzan 2000). The trade-off between “speed” and comprehension must be analyzed with respect to the type of reading that is being done, the risks associated with mis-understanding due to low comprehension, and the benefits associated with getting through the material quickly and gaining information at the actual rate it is obtained.

Howard Stephen Berg was published in the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records as the Fastest Reader in the World.

The Guinness Book of World Records reviewed the evidence for his claim, and it resulted in their publishing it in their 1990 record book.There is also a question on scanning, or skimming being considered “reading”. Berg himself states that he only garners the concepts and not the details of the text.

In January 1998 the United States Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Howard Stephen Berg for false and deceptive advertising.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy was a proponent of speed reading and encouraged his staff to take lessons.


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