Sunday, March 30, 2008

I like to read text backwards. Don't really know exactly why. Am I alone?

I catch myself time and time again reading a text backwards. Be it a short email, an article, or even a book. Most of the time I start from the end, read the last paragraph or page, and start jumping pages and paragraphs randomly backwards up to the start.

It may have been influenced by the fact that most magazines leave the best content to the end (so they can place a lot of ads in the middle).

Another explanation is the fact that less than 10% of everything I've ever read is fiction, where linear and progressive reading is the only way that makes sense.

Could it have any relation with the fact that I'm left-handed (I'd say 75% left-handed)? I looked around and couldn't find any scientific article or study about it.

Another theory I have is that it may be a habit that evolved from a known speed reading technique: doing a very fast skim on the text, basically trying to figure out how lengthy it is, how it is structured, what it talks about, where is the main point, how long is the conclusion and so on. So your eyes eventually get to the end of the text and then I get lazy to find where it actually started, so I just go on backwards from where I'm at.

Regardless of the reason behind it, I have found that it gives me better comprehension and helps me 'skim' the material objectively. Try it later and tell me how it went!

16 comments:

Osvaldo Santana Neto said...

No, you're not alone. I read mainly magazines from the end to start. I'm left-handed too.

I'm not a big fan of Mangas but it's very natural to read these kind of magazines.

Guilherme De Napoli said...

I do it all the time, and I'm right handed. Guess this correlation is flawed.

Anonymous said...

No, I do it too, and find comprehension MUCH easier that way. I actually found this blog when I was looking it up online to search for an explanation. I, too, find I do it more when I grow impatient at what the point is or where it's going, such as when the author is unnecessarily wordy. As for lefty-righty, hard to tell with me; I was ambidextrous until my first grade teacher saw my indecisiveness one day and said she wouldn't put up with that in her class and put the pencil in my right hand. My left hand still writes more clearly though, less cramped, though shaky for want of use.

Anonymous said...

(revisit)
What little I found and extrapolate out:
1. Working backward is a technique problem solvers tend to use often (possibly even habitually?)
2. Speed readers are often taught to scan/skim forward then backward before reading because it gives your brain an idea what train of thought you'll be following
3. The brain doesn't require every word, fact, or letter to be present to get the general idea of what's being communicated.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean. I've assumed something has been wrong with me all my life because,I skim backwards and read forwards. It gives a sigh of relief to know I am not alone.

Anonymous said...

I just assumed everybody read articles this way.

Harvest said...

I googled this question because I always skim forward then read the paragraphs in reverse order (note not as in letters backwards, but chunks). My recall of the text is better in less time and I skip the bla bla bla that's usually in there. Glad it's not a disorder ha! Oh and I'm a righty.

Andy Linteau said...

I also googled this wondering if anyone else did it, ha ha. I am a righty.

Andy Barnes said...

I do this too, and I too found this article after searching for an explanation. I am dyslexic and use my fork (eating) like a lefty but write like a righty!!!! I thought it had something to do with Dyslexia. One problem i have found with it, is that it makes it very hard to learn from text books that have a structure designed to be read a certain way, such as maths text books etc. I read fiction the normal way but the book has to be really good otherwise I put it down after 10 minutes. I think the internet makes this not a problem as you can search for what you want..... No need for books anymore!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I do it too... Right handed btw.. I think its right about the subconcious way of finding a quick way to "see" the main point of the article, the structure, Setup, etc... Maybe its a "lazy" technique some of us "grow" by reading too much waste-information, if you know what I mean... Many news articles for example contains 2/3 important information, and 1/3 non-important information, and by that in mind, the human brain has tendencies to find the quickest way in everything... And by reading an article from the end, it's most likely because the important information is written at the end, and as the text shows interesting information, we slowly go backwards through the text - driven by curiosity of the ongoing reading behind/before the important text.... Does this make sense for you? :D

Unknown said...

I do the same, I usually drink with my left because I can't hold any cup with my right hand -.-'

Unknown said...

Hey everyone, I'm right handed yet read backwards, or skim back then read forwards. I think it is about problem solving and speed. I can't believe it took me this long to google this lol

Unknown said...

I also believe people who are more problems solvers than others enjoy reading backwards.

Anonymous said...

I also do this especially news articles. I'd love to understand the psychology of why I (and others lol) do this.

Stringer said...

Just found this article too. I've realised that I tend to work backwards in a paragraph....chunks of text at a time. Not sure why, but glad I eventually googled it and found some others with the same thing. I'm right-handed! :-)
I do work in a problem-solving job/environment, so that part makes sense to me. I also play piano and one or two other instruments.....just to start looking for other connections between people :-)

Sub-conciously, I think it's a need for quick information....these days, it's so easy to get the information you need, very quickly.....web-page, search, result So having to read 3 or 4 paragraphs...I think my brain wants to "skip to the end" and then work back.
Thanks for all the contributions above.

Yany said...

I do that too, I always wonder why?