On this video, Howard Stephen Berg appears as a guest speaker, where the host claims that he could read 80 pages per minute. That just seems impossible.

I understand that speed reading is possible and successful to some extent, with a trade-off between comprehension and speed. In speed reading courses I've noticed that you'll typically be taught to spend no more than 0.5 seconds per line, and keep working at it until you get it, but at 80 pages per minute (supposedly 25,000 words) the guy would have to read 1.3 pages per second. So I understand that at ultra high speeds, the comprehension level drops to nearly 50% of the content, and that's a valid result if one desires to absorb light, non complex information quickly, but to read an entire page of any length in 1.3 seconds, that sounds fishy.

I know that he talks about using the subconscious mind to take in the content, but there don't seem to be any strategies mentioned on Wikipedia which don't involve reading line by line.

So my question is: Is there an actual record of Howard Stephen Berg reading 80 pages per minute? Is it a trustworthy record? Do statistics exist with the record showing the comprehension level?

The best I can figure, he could have a photographic memory, and just flip the pages, reading them later from his visual memory to answer questions about the content proving "comprehension". Edit: After looking into photographic memory, it seems to be unproven scientifically, so perhaps that isnt a possibility after all.

1 Answer 1


According to this letter addressed to Mr. Howard Stephen Berg from Cyd Smith, the Assistant director of Guinness Book of World Records (1990):

Dear Mr. Berg:

We have accepted your speed reading claim for the inclusion in the 1990 edition of the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS but we are unable to use any of your photographs.

Also regarding the existence of the actual record and his comprehension level, here is the quote taken from the actual Gunniess Book of World Records (1990),

Reading Fast. 80 pages (25,000 words) per min is the supersonic "reading" speed claimed by Howard Stephen Berg (b 1949, Brooklyn, NY), who has convinced a number of TV hosts that he comprehends and remembers what he scanned, perhaps not the details, but the concepts, with the details left for a later, slower reading. He teaches speed reading and gives lectures throughout N America on using the unused part of one's brain.

Here is Mr. Berg's perspective of reading at ultra high speeds, taken from his book Speed Reading Secrets:

When reading over 60 pages per minute, an altered state of consciousness is experienced. The text seems to disappear as you become one with the book. You actually read faster than your mind can think. In this eightened state, text appears as images and experiences rather than words and phrases. It almost seems as though you are viewing a movie instead of reading a book.

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    So in other words there's zero proof whatsoever, it wasn't recorded or monitored by any official means. "One with the book." is probably equivalent to "I looked at the pages, read 10 words from each had some guesses about which words came in between, and called it a world record to benefit my career as a speed reading entrepreneur." Did I get that right?
    – J.Todd
    Dec 13, 2015 at 21:13
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    @Viziionary, Thats right. As stated, the only recording done was convincing a bunch TV hosts. And nice interpretation for the "one with the book". But in the end, how else can a person read 25,000 words in a minute?
    – TheChetan
    Dec 14, 2015 at 3:55
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    Yeah, well I guessed it was something like that as soon as I saw them pointing to a link to his speed reading software 2 minutes into the video.
    – J.Todd
    Dec 15, 2015 at 18:46

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