Dunce’s corner banned – but how did it all start? What’s the origin of the dunce cap?

So placing pupils in Dunce’s corner could breach a pupil’s human rights, say councils. This has been used as a punishment in schools since Victorian times. But the original purpose behind ‘Dunces’ was to help pupil to learn better.

Duns cup helps with concentration

The dunce cap can help with concentration

In the 13th century, a Franciscan monk and philosopher, John Duns Scotus, developed a ‘duns cap’ to be worn by children who needed something to help them focus. Detractors of Scotus made fun of the cap. Over time the ‘dunce’s cap’ came to be associated with ‘stupid’ children, and was eventually misunderstood and used to stigmatise and make fun of such children. Most recently, when Ron Davis was working with children diagnosed as dyslexic, he discovered that asking the children to concentrate on this point was enough to allow many of them to start reading (see his book ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’). How do we know about this point? First think about this question: What do the following have in common? Dunces, wizards, saints,  yogis. All (originally) knew the importance of focusing on a point above and behind the crown of the head in order to enhance their ability to concentrate and be fully aware. This point has been well known for many years. It is depicted as a halo in many pictures of Christian saints, yogis know it as the 8th chakra (which gives access to universal wisdom), and witches and wizards wore a hat which reminded them to focus on this point in order to enhance their magic powers.

In speed reading and photoreading this point of concentration is used to help to get into a better state for reading faster and understanding more. It also helps to open the peripheral vision which helps to see more text on a page.

Learn how to focus on the concentration point to double your reading rate

100,000 words we encounter every day – evolution of reading

The speed of modern life is 2.3 words per second, or about 100,000 words a day. That is the verbiage bombarding the average (American) person in the 12 hours they are typically awake and ‘consuming’ information, according to a new study ‘How Much Information?’ by the University of California, San Diego.

    The average American consumes 100,000 words, or about 34 gigabytes of information, every day

The average American consumes 100,000 words, or about 34 gigabytes of information, every day

More great insights from the study:
– Americans read less print media as an overall percentage of their information consumption, but they’re actually reading more than ever in quantity.
– From 1980 to 2008, the number of bytes we consume has increased 6 percent each year. Over 28 years, that’s a 350 percent increase.
– Video game consumption saw the biggest leap in time spent. That’s not just video games as you know them, but also games on your phone and on social media sites such as Facebook.

Evolution of reading 1960-2008

Evolution of reading 1960-2008

The words that tell the story how we live – top words of the decade

The Global Language Monitor documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language the world over, with a particular emphasis upon Global English. For example, English passed the 1,000,000 threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 am GMT. A US web monitoring firm has declared the millionth English word to be Web 2.0, a term for the latest generation of web products and services. English gains a new word every 98 minutes (or about 14.7 new words a day).
The Top Words of 2009

1. Twitter — The ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters
2. Obama — The word stem transforms into scores of new words like ObamaCare
3. H1N1 — The formal (and politically correct) name for Swine Flu

4. Stimulus — The $800 billion aid package meant to help mend the US economy
5. Vampire — Vampires are very much en vogue, now the symbol of unrequited love
6. 2.0 — The 2.0 suffix is attached to the next generation of everything

7. Deficit — Lessons from history are dire warnings here
8. Hadron — Ephemeral particles subject to collision in the Large Hadron Collider
9. Healthcare — The direction of which is the subject of intense debate in the US
10. Transparency — Elusive goal for which many 21st c. governments are striving

The Top Words of the Decade, as part of its annual global survey of the English language.
The Top Words were ‘Global Warming’, 9/11, and Obama followed by Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed. “Climate Change” was the top phrase, while “Heroes” was the top name; bin-Laden was No. 2.

0.2 – the time in seconds taken by the brain to identify a written word.


							

Reading Trends: Micro-summaries of books

Shortage of reading time sparks a trend of micro-summaries for people who don’t have time even to read regular summaries. I guess 24o characters could suffice to summaries almost anything as Twitter made it possible. Originally, started by Woody Allen’s famous quote “I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia.”

A few tongue-in-cheek macro-summaries of feel-good books:
>1 How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie: Simile. Listen. Look interested. Remember people’s names. Repeat.
>2 The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle: Stop thinking about the past, stop anticipating the future. In fact, stop thinking. Now.
>3 Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson: Because they keep moving the cheese, you really need to be ready for the cheese to move. Got it?
>4 Outliers: The Story Of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: Get  born at the right moment, at the right place, to the right family and then still you have to work really hard. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell  is number 6 on The 100 Best Books of the Decade according to The Times

Book summary of ‘Thin slicing’ of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers: The Story of Success

Read the best book summaries

Boutique bookshops – re-found pleasures of buying books

With online ordering, high-street chain discounts, (Borders closing down), recession – the future of traditional bookshops doesn’t look great. But according to The Bookseller there is a rise of the boutique bookshops. 34 new independent bookshops were open in the UK this year. In one bookshop in Notting Hill coffee is served in china cups and literary-inspired perfumes are sold with the Austen and Tolken. Down the road, Cinephilia West has a screening room, while Phaidon’s pop-up bookshop in Piccadilly is coffee-table-book nirvana. New bread of bookshops offering everything from cosy reading room to home-made biscuits. This is a return of book-buying as an enchanting experience.

The 100 Best Books of the Decade according to The Times

The top 10 books of the decade (The Times):
1 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

2 Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2003)

3 Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (2004)
4 Masterworks of the Classical Haida Mythtellers trans Robert Bringhurst
(2002
5 Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
(2006)
6 The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
(2000) Read ‘Thin slicing’ of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers: The Story of Success
7 Life of Pi by Yann Martel
(2002)
8 Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood
(2008)
9 Atonement by Ian McEwan
(2001)
10 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
(2003)
Check out the full list of the 100 best books of the decade by the Times

Read top business and executive book summaries

Read only summaries, not chapters – you’ll learn more

Students learn more from summaries than entire chapters

“In a series of experiments, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University compared five-thousand-word chapters from college textbooks with one-thousand-word summaries of those chapters. The textbooks varied in subject: Russian history, African geography, macroeconomics. But the subject made no difference: in all cases, the summaries worked better. When students were given the same amount of the time with each – twenty to thirty minutes – they learned more from the summaries than they did from the chapters. This was true whether the students were tested twenty minutes after they read the material or one year later. In either case, those who read the summaries recalled more than those who read the chapters.” from Errornomics, Why we make mistakes and what we can do to avoid them by Joseph Hallinan

Good summaries are short – like miniskirts – short enough to retain the interest but long enough to cover the subject.

We’ve been saying that for some time now – just download the FREE summary of 37 Speed Reading Techniques

Read the best book summaries

Food for thought and reading

The right diet can help with learning

Happy foods for boosting memory, learning power and concentration are bananas (excellent source of starchy carbohydrate, which encourages production of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin), green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach and nuts and seeds (great source of magnesium, which helps the body to make serotonin). Other serotonin producing foods are sardines, foie gras and cottage cheese. Of course, chocolate is the one snack that everyone knows instinctively will give them a lift. Chocolate, especially the dark, good quality organic variety, contains high quantities of phenols, antioxidants that boost mood, and N-acylethanoloamine chemicals, which stimulate the brain to release endorphins. But chocolate is fattening, so the key is to have a piece or tow, not a whole bar. Maintaining hydration is crucial to ensure an even mood. Even small decreases  in hydration levels can leave your feeling grumpy. Keep water to hand to top up fluids regularly. Based on research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP) last week.

Errornomics – the science of making errors and how to evoid them

Errornomics by Joseph Hallinan delves into explaining why we make errors and what we can do to stop them.

Hallinan began working on this book by collecting cuttings involving human error. ‘Some were funny, some were tragic. There was one from Britain where people had ransacked the home of a baby doctor because they had mistaken the word paediatrian for paedophile.’

So why do we make mistakes? According to Hallinan, assumption is the mother of all cock-ups. “People have a poor understanding of how perception works and they tend to think it’s more foolproof than it is actually the case. In certain forms of perception there are consistent, provable, biases and those biases predispose us to making errors.” A good example of this is taking exams. The perceived wisdom is to go with your first answer because it’s most likely to be right. In fact, academic research form past 80 years has shown the opposite to be true. It’s much better to go with your second guess but people don’t do that.

5 top tips for avoiding mistakes: 1) Make a list. A leading medical journal recently reported that when surgeons used a pre-surgical checklist, the death rate from surgical error plunged by 47%. 2) Second-guess. Most people think it’s smarter, when taking a test, to go with their first instinct. Don’t. Most people who change their answers usually improve their test score. 3) Write it down. Our memory automatically distorts  our recall of past actions, making them seem more favourable. For example, college students consistently remember their school grades as being much better than they actually were. 4) Get some sleep. A study found even moderate sleep deprivation can have the same hazardous effects as being drunk. People who drive a car after being awake for 17 to 19 hours performed worse than those who with a blood alcohol level of .05%. 5) Do less. Multitasking is a great way to make mistakes. What will your boss be more concerned about, taking your time or getting everything wrong?
Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

The 10 best reference websites

1. The CIA Factbook
This offshoot of the American intelligence agency’s site gives a detailed overview of every country. It also provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.

2. Biography.com
The website of the Biography Channel is an excellent place to gen up on historical figures and celebrities, while its “Dead Or Not” game shows that beyond a necessary obsession with factual accuracy it has a fun side, too.

3. Onelook.com
Type in a word or phrase and OneLook will offer a quick definition and link to reputable online sources, such as the Cambridge and Hutchinson dictionaries. Wildcard searches, meanwhile – where you need only key in a few words from a word – make it invaluable for Scrabble players and crossword solvers.

4. Onlineconversion.com
Sorted by more than 30 categories, from astronomical units to viscosity, this converts one unit of measurement to another. Google can do something similar – type “20kg in ounces” into the search box, for example -but this site is far more comprehensive.

5. 1911encyclopedia.org
The full 1911 version of the Encyclopaedia-Britannica is now online. Particularly interesting are the accounts of historical figures written while they were alive.

6. Britannica.com
Online access to the modern Britannica costs £49.95 a year, but that compares with £450 for the full set of 32 volumes. More comprehensive than Wikipedia, it also features thousands of audio and video clips.

7. About.com
About was set up in 1996 and can now call on a network of more than 750 experts to answer users’ questions. More than 60m people visit the site each month looking for help on pretty much anything.

8. Specialissues.com/lol
A collection of links to lists that have appeared somewhere in the world’s press. If you need to know the planet’s most valuable 15 football teams, head there.

9. Lii.org
The Librarians’ Internet Index is a US organisation with a collection of links to ‘websites you can trust’. The history and politics ones are a little US-centric, arts and science links are more comprehensive.

10. www.WhatsOnWhen.com
This lists upcoming event from all over the world. Search by date, destination, type of event, keyword or a combination of them all, and maybe discover that your trip to Tahiti coincides with its annual Tarantino week.

 

Bookworms’ dream: ATM for books

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launched at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait. It offers the best of both worlds: the virtually unlimited choice of books on the Internet and the traditional book format. In short, ATM for books.

Reading Trends: how non-fiction sales, by genre, have stocked up in the 21st century

Do we read less in recession? Publishing has suffered in the downturn, though not as much as one might think. In fact, over the past eight years, the umber of books bought in the UK has risen by nearly 50 per cent to just under 240 million. Adult non-fiction – now makes up 40 per cent of the sales, eclipsing fiction, which accounts for just 30 per cent (the remaining 30 per cent is accounted for by children’s books). In the graphic below, each full-sized book represents about 225,000 books purchased, meaning that in 2007 – our tallest shelf – the nation bought just under 23 million books across the genres selected. Some of the trends are clear. Su Doku – in “Puzzles” – catapults into the mainstream in 2005. Celebrity chefs continue their rise. Biographies and autobiographies spike in 2006, mostly because a lot of high-profile names among them Gordon Ramsey, Sharon Osbourne and Steven Gerrard – had books published. Then there are the small victories, such as Does Anything Eat Wasps?, a compendium of New Scientist columns, which in 2006 almost single-handedly increased sales of popular science books by 50 per cent.

Reading trends 2001-2009 - sales of books in the UK

Reading trends 2001-2008 – sales of books in the UK

Conscious vs subconscious processing power

How faster is your subconscious at processing information compared to the conscious mind? 500.000 times!

This is how I’ve calculated the difference. The subconscious mind can process 20 000 000 bits of info per second. The conscious mind can only process 40 bits of info/sec. So the subconscious mind can process 500 000 time more what the conscious mind is able to. This according to information from The Biology of Belief by Dr Bruce Lipton. There is no formal agreement on how fast is the subconscious mind. For example, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine estimate that the human retina can transmit visual input at at roughly 10 million bits per second. Another study suggests that the subconscious mind processes about 400 billion bits of information per second and the impulses travel at a speed of up to 100,000 mph! Compare this to your conscious mind, which processes only about 2,000 bits of information per second and its impulses travel only at 100-150 mph. We have 50 trillion cells in our body performing trillions of processes – so an enormous processing power is required. Another take: only about 0.01% of all the brain’s activity is experienced consciously. In other words, it is as if roughly 10’000 cinema films are actually going on in the brain all at once, while we are only consciously aware of one of them. Altogether then, the data rate processed by the brain is an astronomical 320 Gb/s! (read the full paper) Whatever the processing power and speed of subconscious mind, with speed reading and photoreading you can start to utilise the enormous powers of your subconscious mind.

Bookworld – reading simulates reality

When we read books, our brains process the written information as if we were participating in or observing the scene for real. “Psychologists and neuroscientists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that when we read a story and really understand it, we create a mental simulation of the events described by the story.” says Professor Jeffrey Zacks, director of the Dynamic Cognitive Laboratory at Washington University in St Louis. Read more about this study

Relaxation is the key to speed reading

Getting into a good state for speed reading is essential. Having a relaxed, alert, questioning, purposeful mind is the ideal state for reading if you want to understand and remember information. Many of the other speed reading techniques that we teach are also designed to get your mind and body in an optimal state for reading. The latest research backing up relaxation as the key to learning comes from Goldsmiths College in London and the Austrian Academy of Science where they studied the brain rhythms of 25 volunteers  while they were asked to solve verbal problems. Those who displayed higher alpha brain waves – associated with a relaxed brain – were more likely to find the correct solution to the problem. Download our 37 speed reading techniques now

Dr. Larry Dossey The Power of Premonitions: How knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives Vs Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

From an interview with Dr. Larry Dossey: Your book sounds a lot like the bestselling book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. He says we can know something is going to happen and make accurate snap decisions without knowing why.
LD: You’re right. I love the examples Gladwell uses. Many of them are what I’m calling premonitions — firemen who leave a burning room before the floor collapses, without knowing why they are doing so; George Soros’s predicting world markets without rationally knowing why; Vic Braden, the famous tennis coach, who can predict double faults with extreme accuracy without a clue about how he does it. Gladwell regards this kind of knowing as a big fat mystery. He says we should “accept the mysterious nature of our snap judgments….[W]e’re better off that way”. I don’t think we’re better off that way. Gladwell literally endorses ignorance, which I find baffling. He completely ignores research such as the presentiment experiments. The term “premonition” does not even appear in his book. There is a great deal of evidence — an entire chapter in my book — that can shed light on what Gladwell dismisses as a total mystery. Why he won’t go there is unclear to me. Like many other science journalists, he’s reluctant to acknowledge that consciousness can operate outside the present and beyond the body. Although I agree with Gladwell that there’s mystery in all this, it’s not as dense as he says. We know a lot about premonitions — their characteristics, what favors them, andwhat purposes they serve. Some outstanding scientists are willing to consider premonitions as an explanation for the kind of knowing that Gladwell describes. Among them is Paul Drayson, Britain’s science minister. In discussing Gladwell’s book Blink, Drayson says he has personally known in advance that something is going to happen. He says, “In my life there have been some things that I’ve known and I don’t know why…like a sixth sense.’” “Sixth sense” is a common term for premonitions.

Download the whole article – Questions and answers on The Power of Premonitions with Dr Larry Dossey

Listen to an interview with Dr. Larry Dossey about his book on premonitions (12 parts) – this is the 1st part – the rest you can follow on YouTube

Book Summaries – 50 Prosperity Classics

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 21.17.08Research suggests that people who read summaries rather than the whole books remember more details and for longer (Read summaries not chapters). There is a whole industry of book summaries in the world now. Passing Time in The Loo series was one of the first to spot the market for book summaries. Tom Butler-Bowen has written summaries many different classic categories of books from prosperity to self-help to success to spiritual and psychology.